Rahall: Water bill conference report coming soon

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The top ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee said Thursday that a conference report on an $8.2 billion water infrastructure bill would likely be emerging for a vote as early as next week. 

Lawmakers have been haggling over the measure, known as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), since the beginning of the year. 

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) told reporters Thursday at the Capitol that a final agreement was likely to come soon.

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"It's my understanding Leader Reid has reserved floor time," said Rahall, who is the top ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Rahall cautioned that it was unclear if the bill would also be brought up next week in his chamber.

"I can't speak to the House schedule," he said.

"You have to ask the chairman that," he added in reference to House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).

If the conference report on the WRDA bill is approved, it would mark the first reauthorization of programs designed to boost U.S. ports and waterways in six years.

The measure authorizes appropriations for $8.2 billion worth of projects that have been identified by the Army Corps of Engineers as improvements to U.S. system of inland waterways, such as deepening ports and improving river quality.

The selection of projects was delegated to the Army Corps. in part to avoid a ban on earmarks in the House, but lawmakers have quibbled about whether the resulting measure gives too much power to pick projects that will receive funding to the Obama administration

Rahall cautioned Thursday that a final agreement has still yet to be reach.

"Nothing's agreed to until everything's agreed to," he said.

—Cristina Marcos contributed to this report.