Woodall Leads House-Passage of Water Resources Legislation, Investment in Georgia Ports
(Washington, DC) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5303, the “Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA)” addressing the needs of America’s ports, dams, flood protection, and other water resources infrastructure. The legislation builds upon the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA), restoring the two-year cycle of authorizing water policy and equipping the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers with the tools needed to move forward on billions of dollars’ worth of water projects – including ongoing expansion of the Savannah Harbor and feasibility studies for the Port of Brunswick. Seventh District Representative Rob Woodall serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee responsible for crafting the bill, and successfully led the measure through the House, managing debate for its consideration.
With implications ranging from water reservoir levels to interstate commerce and economic growth, WRDA’s impact is significant. Each year, $1.4 trillion of goods move through U.S. ports, which includes the Port of Savannah as the largest single container terminal and second busiest container exporter in North America. H.R. 5303’s investment in this pivotal infrastructure is an economic boon not only to the state, but the entire southeast region, and sustains a locally driven project proposal process that is reviewed, but not dictated, by Congress.
“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,” said Rep. Woodall. “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.”
“This bill is fundamental to America’s competitiveness, and gets Congress back to the regular business of addressing some of our most pressing infrastructure needs. Rep. Woodall understands how important an efficient maritime and waterways transportation system is to the country’s economy, and I’m grateful for his leadership in getting this crucial legislation passed,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), sponsor of the legislation. “We now look forward to continuing our work with the Senate to get a final bill sent to the President’s desk.”
With the 2014 passage of WRRDA, Congress enacted a number of revolutionary reforms that devolved much of the decision-making on projects across the country to states and regions, and H.R. 5303 continues the trend. It also marks the return of regular order as the legislation is historically passed biannually; however, between 2000 and 2014, only three WRDA authorizations were enacted, and Woodall sees the recent progress as a welcome course correction.
“Here at home, we’ve been leading the way in water conservation efforts and infrastructure improvement for years, and a tremendous example is our robust and very successful water management plan that has produced a 30 percent reduction in per capita water use since 2000,” Woodall added. “We as Georgians aren’t doing that because a federal agency told us to, but because it’s the right thing to do; and as a result, total water consumption in the region has dropped by 10 percent despite adding a million people to the region.”
With an important balance of local focus and broad view, H.R. 5303 continues to move forward with infrastructure investment, but maintains a commitment to fiscal responsibility by fully offsetting all new authorizations and putting a sunset provision on inactive projects. The measure also contains no earmarks, ensuring the legislation is focused on relevant policy.
Congressman Woodall represents the Seventh Congressional District of Georgia, which includes the majority 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.