(Posted Thu. Sep 19th, 2013)
Sept 19: Today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013. The National Corn Growers Association appreciates the bi-partisan effort put forth by members of the committee to clear this legislation of its first major hurdle in the House.
“A modern inland waterways system is critical to American agriculture and to the nation’s economy,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said. “Every year more than a billion tons of domestic commerce, valued at more than $300 billion, travels through our lock and dam system. In addition, more than one billion bushels of grain which equates to roughly 60 percent of all grain exports, move to markets via the inland waterways each year. We can’t afford to allow such an integral part of our value chain continue to deteriorate.”
The bill, which passed by a voice vote, authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue its work on developing, maintaining and supporting the Nation’s port and waterways infrastructures. It also supports targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs. NCGA urges the House Ways and Means Committee to include an increase to the barge fuel tax in order to improve the revenue stream for the Inland Waterway Trust Fund. This will help to ensure projects do not continue to fall behind. While a waterways bill has historically been passed every two years, the previous legislation to be signed into law was in 2007.
“While we are very pleased with the action by the House Transportation Committee today, the job is not done,” Johnson said. “In order to build the infrastructure approved by the Committee, we need the Ways and Means Committee to approve funding to come from the private sector to pay for it.”
NCGA will continue to educate members of the House on the importance of this legislation prior to the expected floor consideration in October.