By Keith Laing
Both chamber’s versions of the WRRDA bill allow the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers to identify projects that will receive funding. The WRRDA bill only contains the authorization for expenditures on waterways, so the funding itself would have to be approved by the congressional Appropriations committees.
Lawmakers have been looking for a way around selecting the specific projects ports and waterways themselves because doing so could be read as a violation of the House's ban on earmarks.
GOP leaders on the House Transportation Committee have focused on selling the regulatory reforms to they say will be included in the new WRRDA – they’ve even added a second ‘R’ to its traditional WRDA acronym.
Republicans said their version of the water bill would cut the environmental review process for new port and waterways projects from 15 years to three years.
GOP leaders have also focused on what they say is the job creation potential of passing a new water bill, arguing that its passage would provide a boost to the U.S. economy.
If supporters are successful, the new WRRDA bill would be the first water legislation passed by Congress since 2008.
That measure was passed over a veto by former President George W. Bush.