Infrastructure

Senate panel unanimously approves water infrastructure bill

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday unanimously passed its bipartisan water infrastructure bill, putting the biennial legislation on track in the upper chamber.

The panel’s bill, unveiled earlier this month, comes as President Trump’s sweeping infrastructure plan appears to be on ice.

{mosads}Lawmakers are now turning to their biennial pursuit of water infrastructure legislation, a bill Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) referenced when discussing how Congress would work towards achieving the president’s rebuilding framework.

“Our committee has taken an important step towards improving America’s water infrastructure,” Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said in a statement.

“This legislation will cut Washington red tape, create jobs, and grow our economy. America’s Water Infrastructure Act will increase water storage in the West, protect communities from dangerous floods, and upgrade old drinking water systems.”

America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 calls upon the National Academy of Sciences to produce reports examining how the Army Corps of Engineers can improve transparency to work with stakeholders, Congress and local governments.

“Investing in our water infrastructure will grow our economy and help create jobs right here at home,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the committee’s ranking member, said Tuesday.

“While there is more work to do to move these bills across the finish line, today is an important first step, and if we continue to work in a bipartisan fashion, this legislation will serve as a model for the rest of Congress.” 

The bill calls for a drinking water pilot program, under the guidance of the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, in certain regions for Indian tribes. It also requests studies on the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, including one by the Governmental Accountability Office to assess how the law could be used better in both rural and small communities.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who chairs the panel’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, and subcommittee ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced the legislation with Carper and Barrasso. 

Several senators in both parties have since signed on as sponsors, including Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). 

The House last week unveiled its own water resources legislation, which calls for a study to examine the effects of moving the Corps’ civil work out of the Department of Defense and to a wholly new entity or into another agency.

The lower chamber’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will mark up its bill Wednesday.

Tags Ben Cardin Chris Van Hollen Dan Sullivan Donald Trump James Inhofe John Barrasso John Boozman Paul Ryan Roger Wicker Sheldon Whitehouse Shelley Moore Capito Tom Carper water infrastructure
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