(Posted Thu. Oct 24th, 2013)
Oct 24: Late Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, H.R. 3080, by a vote of 417-3. The National Corn Growers Association congratulates members on advancing the bill with strong, bipartisan support.
“A nearly unanimous vote on legislation rarely occurs these days on Capitol Hill,” NCGA President Martin Barbre said. “This just goes to show how important WRRDA is not only to agriculture, but to the American economy. Every year more than one billion bushels of corn, or roughly 60 percent of all corn exports, move to export markets via our nation’s inland waterways. Unfortunately, investments in the system have not kept pace with the needs of the transportation sector.”
The bill authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop, maintain and support the nation’s port and waterways infrastructures. It also supports targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs. However, the passed version does not include an increase in the barge fuel tax to increase revenue for the Inland Waterway Trust Fund. NCGA previously urged the House Ways and Means Committee to include the tax to ensure that projects do not continue to fall behind.
While a waterways bill has historically been passed every two years, the law WRRDA bill to be signed into law was in 2007.
“Our current lock system is approaching 80 years old and cannot accommodate modern barging practices, which could leave us at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace. The locks are outdated and deteriorating but this legislation will help expedite the timing of construction projects,” Barbre said. “We are hopeful the bill will move swiftly through conference and be signed into law.”