Senate Panel to Markup WRDA Bill Today
EPW today marks up WRDA. The Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee today marks up a major update of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), working from a draft negotiated by Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and ranking Republican David Vitter (R-La.). That bill could reach the Senate floor next month or in May, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said. The draft features fast-track procedures to speed up environmental and permitting reviews for harbor or river projects under the Army Corps of Engineers, and penalties if corps deadlines are not met. That has drawn praise from industry but criticism from environmental groups. The draft would also assure that all of the $1.8 billion in annual harbor maintenance tax collections are spent on seaport projects like dredging, which would roughly double the funding available for such work. Vitter said he and Boxer plan to later offer language on the Senate floor to overhaul the Inland Waterways Trust Fund that pays 50 percent of river lock and dam projects.