Boehner: $12.3B water bill proof GOP kept anti-earmark promise

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said a $12.3 billion bill to boost U.S. ports and waterways that was recently approved by Congress is proof that Republicans have kept their promise to eliminate earmarks. 

The measure, known as the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), is awaiting President Obama's signature after being approved by the House and Senate last week. 

Boehner tweeted Friday that “the passage of #WRRDA is proof that #GOP have kept our promise to end the era of #earmarks."

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“The Water Resources Reform and Development Act passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support last week, and it did so without a single pork-barrel earmark,” Boehner said in a blog post on the Speaker’s Office website. 

“As the Speaker noted recently, when it comes to earmarks, Republicans have kept our promise,” the Boehner blog post continued. “The passage of this bill is proof of that, and equally as important, it’s another reminder that as long as Speaker Boehner is at the helm, the Washington era of earmarks is over.” 

The measure identifies more than $12 billion worth of new water infrastructure projects and authorizes funding for them, though appropriations committees will have the authority to dole out the funds.

Among the projects identified for funding in the final water bill agreement are long-sought plans to deepen ports in Jacksonville, Fla.; Savannah, Ga.; and Boston. Republicans touted the fact that the final version of the measure also included the elimination of $18 million worth of port and water projects that had been rolled over from previous funding measures. 

Obama is expected to sign the water funding bill. He and other members of his administration visited a series of ports last year to push Congress to approve the new infrastructure funding. 

If the water bill becomes law as expected, it will be the first round of new water infrastructure spending to be approved by Congress since 2007. 

Transportation advocates have warned that U.S. ports need to be expanded to handle larger ships that are expected to come through the Panama Canal after the Central American channel is deepened next year. 

The last water funding bill to become law was passed in 2007 over a veto from former President George W. Bush.