September 29, 2016 8:00 AM
As Congress worked to pass legislation before wrapping up the 2016 fiscal year. the House managed to pass the 2016 version of H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act. The bill deals with the infrastructure needed to manage the country’s water resources, including dams, flood protection, and the nation’s ports. Included in the measure was an authorization to continue the deepening of the Savannah Harbor, and a project to determine how to improve the navigability of the Brunswick harbor.
Seventh District Rep. Rob Woodall, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led the measure through the House, managing debate for its consideration. He commented:
There is no resource more essential than clean water, and this bill is a crucial part of ensuring we’re responsibly and efficiently managing it; both from a policy and a procedural standpoint. As circumstances change and needs vary across the country, it’s critically important that we leverage our local expertise while staying true to the regular order of biannual authorizations that provide certainty as well as oversight for the American people.
House Budget Committee Chair and 6th District Rep. Tom Price:
This fiscally responsible bill will encourage economic growth and the creation of good-paying American jobs by supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to address the critical needs of our nation’s harbors, locks, dams, flood protection, and other water resources. It will prepare our nation’s infrastructure to grow and compete in the global market. For our communities in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia, this legislation will help safeguard access to vital water resources statewide and as such, proves a victory for the citizens of Georgia. It also lays the groundwork for improvements to the Port of Brunswick, which is essential to our state’s economy.
14th District Rep. Tom Graves:
The nation’s waterways serve as economic engines for growth and job creation. That’s no different in Georgia, where the Port of Savannah contributes $174 million in annual net benefits to the U.S. and supports 21,000 American businesses. Importantly, this bill ensures the Port of Savannah continues to thrive by authorizing the resources necessary to keep the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project on schedule – a top economic priority for Georgia. The expansion project deepens the harbor so it can accommodate the larger cargo ships of the future.
The measure passed the House by a vote of 399 to 25. Rep. Woodall noted that the bill was passed under a return to regular order, where a water bill is authorized ever two years. The previous version passed in 2014. New spending authorizationss in the measure are fully offset, and the bill contains no earmarks.