November 18, 2013 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

The House agreed by unanimous consent to go to conference with the Senate on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (HR 3080) last Thursday.

Shortly after agreeing to go to conference Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced a motion to instruct conferees on the National Dam Safety Program reauthorization.  The motion to instruct conferees asks, but cannot require, House conferees to take a certain negotiating position during the WRDA conference.  In this case, the motion to instruct conferees would cede to the Senate’s authorization of the dam safety program in S. 601, which provides at $9.2 million in grants, $500,000 for the National Dam Inventory, $1 million for public awareness, and $1.45 million for research.  ASCE strongly supports incorporating the Senate dam safety language and worked closely with Congressman Maloney’s office to garner support for the measure. The motion received praise from both sides of the aisle during debate and the final vote for the motion was 347 - 76.

The House also selected 28 conferees for the WRDA conference that will now begin. The House appointed 16 Republicans and 12 Democrats from both the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Natural Resources Committee. The conferees are:

Bill Shuster (R-PA)                                                                  
John Duncan (R-TN)
Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Sam Graves (R-MO)
Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Candice Miller (R-MI)
Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Larry Bucshon (R-IN)
Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
Richard Hanna (R-NY)
Daniel Webster (R-FL)
Tom Rice (R-SC)
Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Doc Hastings (R-WA)
Rob Bishop (R-UT)

Nick Rahall (D-WV)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
Corrine Brown (D-FL)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
Tim Bishop (D-NY)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
John Garamendi (D-CA)
Janice Hahn (D-CA)
Rick Nolan (D-MN)
Lois Frankel (D-FL)
Cheri Bustos (D-IL)
Grace Napolitano (D-CA)

The Senate agreed by unanimous consent on Oct. 31 to launch conference negotiations. The bills would authorize navigation, flood control and wetland restoration projects. Both versions were passed with bipartisan support in their respective chambers.

ASCE urges Congress to conference the Water Resources Development Act quickly. Additionally, ASCE hopes to see a final package that expedites the regulatory and environmental review process, creates a national levee safety program, increases money spent out of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and reauthorizes the National Dam Safety Program. At this time the biggest difference between the House and Senate bills are on how to select Army Corps of Engineers projects that will be authorized for funding as well as the creation of a national levee safety program, which the Senate bill would create, while the House bill would not.

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