Cantor: Water bill vote could come in January

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The House could hold a final vote on an $8.2 billion bill to boost U.S. ports and waterways this month, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday.

Cantor included a potential conference report on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) in a list of bills he said could receive a vote on the floor of the House in the month of January.

The House and Senate have been negotiating on a potential compromise on the water bill since the lower chamber passed its version of the measure in October.

Cantor said it was possible that the talks could come to a conclusion soon.

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“Chairmen Frank Lucas [(R-Okla.)] and Bill Shuster [(R-Pa.)], along with our conferees, continue to work towards agreement with their Senate counterparts on the Farm bill and WRRDA conference reports, respectively,” the majority leader wrote in an email to House Republicans. 

“These two conference reports represent new ideas on how government programs should work and as soon as they are ready for consideration, I expect to schedule these in the House,” Cantor continued.

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.

The White House has said that it prefers the Senate’s approach, but it has indicated that President Obama would be willing to sign either version of the measure.

The administration has sought to amplify pressure on lawmakers to finish the water bill negotiations by having the president, Vice President Biden and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tour ports around the U.S.

Biden and Foxx visited the Panama Canal, which is currently being deepened, last month. Administration officials have often cited the deepening of the Central American channel as a reason Congress should invest more money in U.S. ports and waterways.