GOP leaders hail water projects legislation

House Republican leaders on Tuesday hailed a bipartisan, $12.3 billion water projects bill as a rare example of the two parties working together to enact infrastructure legislation.

The House is expected to pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act on Tuesday after House and Senate negotiators struck a long-delayed agreement to reconcile proposals that cleared each chamber last year.

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The bill has not been a top priority for Republican leaders, who had barely mentioned it until Tuesday. But with few pieces of legislation making it through the divided Congress, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) touted it as a victory, noting that the legislation contained no earmarks.

“This bill will help create jobs, help strengthen our economy, and it’s the first time this bill has ever been produced where there are no earmarks in this bill,” Boehner said at a press conference following a House GOP meeting. “It’s a significant policy achievement.”

The bill authorizes construction and repair of waterways and maritime transit projects, mostly by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The agreement is also a victory for Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who faces a primary election on Tuesday.

“I pat Chairman Shuster on the back for a job well done,” Boehner said. “It demonstrates the kind of progress we can make when Democrats work with us to deal with the American people’s priorities.”

Shuster said the legislation was “reform heavy” and “fiscally responsible.” The bill costs $12.3 billion over 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

“When America invests in our infrastructure and keeps us competitive, that means our business can be competitive around the world and add jobs to the factory floor,” Shuster said. “So this floor is aimed right at the heart of that.”