House Approves Water Resources Bill, Big Wins for Savannah Harbor, State Economy, and Local Businesses
Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. House passed (H.R. 8), the “Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018” – which provides for improvements to America’s ports, inland waterways, locks, dams, flood protection, ecosystem restoration, and other water resources. The measure was unanimously approved by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last month, and easily cleared the full House today with a vote of 408 - 2. The legislation includes a critical increase in the authorized cost of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) to ensure the completion of Georgia’s top economic priority remains on schedule. Rep. Rob Woodall (GA 07) supported the bill’s passage today while ushering it through the Committee process and full House vote. Hear more from Rep. Woodall on the Georgia impact here.
“Georgians have always led by example, and the way we’ve approached protecting and investing in our water resources is no different,” said Rep. Woodall. “Securing the kind of crucial federal partnership we’re seeing on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) – while also preventing federal intervention in interstate water disputes – is a result of our commitment and leadership here at home. Whether Governor Deal, the folks at the Georgia Ports Authority, a cohesive Congressional delegation working together for Georgia, or many others who have worked so diligently to get this done, Georgians stand to reap a great benefit from what we passed in the House today.”
It is true that Georgia has been a leading investor in the project since it began, and it is also true that in recent years, WRDA has often been the mechanism of choice for Florida and Alabama’s efforts to influence the tri-state water negotiations. Congressman Woodall again led the charge to ensure that no such language was included, and succeeded in keeping Washington politics out of Georgia’s water rights – in particular, Forsyth County’s own Lake Lanier.
With the positive economic impact remaining front and center for many Georgians, supporters of H.R. 8 range from local business owners to Governor Deal. Lisa Winton, President and co-owner of Winton Machine in Suwanee, is one of those business owners.
“As a Georgia based manufacturer, I am excited and grateful that the Georgia Ports Authority projects are progressing to help our state's economic growth and our nation's ability to ship and receive goods faster and with more efficiency,” said Winton. “Reduced shipping costs and improved delivery time of our machines are both mission critical to increasing our export business. Thank you to Rep. Woodall, Georgia’s Congressional delegation, Governor Deal, and all our leaders for working together to make such tremendous progress on the GPA expansion and capacity projects.”
Previously, following WRDA’s approval by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on which Rep. Woodall serves, Governor Deal voiced support for the bill as well.
“I applaud Rep. Woodall and the Georgia delegation for their continued efforts on behalf of the deepening of the Port of Savannah,” Governor Deal added. “This bill is another important step forward to ensuring this project receives support and resources from the federal government. Georgia taxpayers have already invested more than $300 million to fund the state’s full local share for SHEP to further establish Georgia’s role as a gateway for global commerce. As Georgia has fulfilled its commitment, we continue to look to the federal government to provide its promised share of funding to ensure that construction on this internationally-recognized project progresses steadily, resources are allocated efficiently and taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately.”
WRDA’s unanimous committee approval was also lauded by Georgia Ports Authority Chief Administrative Officer Jamie McCurry, saying, “We appreciate the continued commitment by Georgia’s Congressional delegation to keep this critical project on track. It is a vital part of maintaining our state’s economic momentum and creating even more employment opportunities for Georgians.”
In Georgia, port-supported jobs total more than an estimated 439,000, with over 25,000 of those being found in Gwinnett County, and over 4,500 in Forsyth – the two counties comprising the Seventh District represented by Woodall. Personal income across the State derived from these positions surpassed $25 billion last year alone (FY2017). As the nation’s fastest growing and fourth-busiest container port, the Port of Savannah handles more than 3 million twenty-foot equivalent container units per year for more than 21,000 U.S. businesses. It is also the largest single-terminal container facility of its kind in North America.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia , which includes significant portions of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties, and currently serves as Chairman of the Rules Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, as well as serving on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and Budget Committee.