Senate names water infrastructure bill conferees

The Senate has named its negotiators for an upcoming conference with House leaders over a new bill to boost U.S. ports and waterways.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and the ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), announced that they would be joined by six other senators in representing the upper chamber.

The other Senate conferees on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) will be Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), John Barrasso (R-Wy.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.).

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Lawmakers are expected to try to reach an agreement on a combined water bill before the end of the year so that the measure can be signed by President Obama.

Obama has said that he prefers the Democratically-controlled Senate's version of the water bill, but he has also said that he can accept the House's legislation.

The water bill includes authorizations for about $8 billion in water infrastructure projects, though neither chamber's version of the measure includes any actual money. The chambers took different approaches to identifying projects that would receive the OK for Congressional funding.

The Senate's version of the measure relied on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make the water project selections, but Republicans in the House argued that doing so would delegate too much responsibility for federal spending away from Congress.