Chamber to Congress: Pass waterways bill quickly

The House is scheduled to mark up its version of the WRRDA bill on Thursday. The Senate has already begun moving a version of the water measure of its own.

Donohue said it was important for Congress to authorize funding for the development of ports and waterways.

"Maritime transportation is a critical part of our broader freight system," he wrote. "Freight transported by water is equivalent to 51 million truck trips each year…But, like much of America’s infrastructure, the maritime system can’t continue to flow smoothly and efficiently—or add value to our economy and jobs for our workers—if we don’t keep up our investments."

Donohue said the current port and waterway system was facing "delays, congestion, and service interruptions caused by insufficient funding to modernize, maintain, and operate our system.

"Congress has an opportunity to prevent these devastating economic losses by passing the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which would drive new strategic investment in our nation’s waterways," he said. The legislation would also help protect land and development from flooding and promote projects that improve hydropower, water supply, ecosystem restoration, and recreational opportunities. 

The WRRDA bill does not contain specific funding for water projects. The bill merely authorizes committees with jurisdiction over port and water infrastructure to include funding in their budgets.

If Congress is able to pass a new version of the WRRDA bill this year, it will be the first new water infrastructure bill that has been approved since 2008.

Advocates have said that traditionally, water bills are approved by lawmakers every two years.