Conference Committee established for water resources bills

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A House-Senate conference committee met on November 20 to begin resolving the differences between their versions of Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The committee consists of 28 House members and 8 Senators with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as chairwoman. WRDA promotes investment in the nation’s water resources infrastructure, accelerates project delivery, and reforms the implementation of Army Corps of Engineers projects. The last WRDA bill passed in 2007 and members are looking for an update. The House and Senate have each passed versions of WRDA, but differ in authorization levels.

In May, the Senate passed their version of WRDA (S. 601), which includes provisions to ensure water infrastructure projects are processed in an efficient manner. The bill also makes reforms to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The House approved their version (H.R. 3080) in September, which authorizes 23 water resources projects that have completed the technical review by the Army Corps of Engineers, and creates a new system for future authorizations that begins with recommendations at the local level.

Conference committee members expressed optimism that they can work together to develop a bipartisan bill that will easily pass in both chambers. Sen. Boxer said they are working hard in the next couple of weeks to finish the bill and she hopes the next time they meet will to be to sign the conference report. Click here for an archived webcast of the conference committee.

Sources: Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Library of Congress