Water Resources Development Act Veto Override On Tap

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 05 Nov 2007 18:12:00 GMT

In late September Congress sent the Water Resources Development Act (HR 1495) with veto-proof majorities in both chambers to the President’s desk. On Friday he vetoed the bill, which would authorizing funding for Army Corps of Engineers projects, including major projects for coastal Louisiana, the Mississippi River, and the Florida Everglades. This is Bush’s fifth veto of his presidency.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote tomorrow to override the veto, and the Senate will follow suit this week. Top Republicans, such as Rep. John L. Mica (Fla.), ranking member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I), and Sen. James Inhofe (Ok.), ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, have vowed to help override the veto.

Rep. James L. Oberstar (Minn.) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Tex.) issued this T&I statement:
It is simply irresponsible for President Bush to veto the only WRDA legislation that has made it to his desk since he took office. Our country cannot afford more setbacks on water resources issues and projects that are critical to our Nation’s economy, as well as to our communities.

As the experiences of the last few months have demonstrated, America’s infrastructure is in dire need. Whether the issue is bridges that collapse in Minnesota or levees that fail in New Orleans, our nation’s infrastructure has reached a critical juncture and may be on the verge of failure. How many more failures do we need before this administration understands the importance of investing in the repair, replacement, and sustainability of our nation’s infrastructure? The American people’s lives and livelihoods depend on safe, reliable, and dependable roads, bridges, levees, and navigation corridors.

Continue reading for a review of HR 1495.

Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (H.R. 1495)

HR 1495 authorizes approximately $23 billion projects and studies for the Corps of Engineers within its existing missions of flood damage reduction, navigation, environmental restoration, water supply, hydropower, and environmental infrastructure.

The following is a summary of major projects included in the conference report for H.R. 1495:
  • Authorizes the initial projects for the restoration of coastal wetlands in the State of Louisiana. Over the last century, Louisiana has lost approximately 1,900 square miles of wetlands that provide natural protection for coastal areas from the devastation of hurricane storm surges. H.R. 1495 would authorize the Corps of Engineers to reverse the loss of coastal wetlands, and provide increased hurricane and storm damage reduction for the areas so devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  • Authorizes the Corps of Engineers to raise and enhance flood protection levees surrounding the City of New Orleans to achieve a 100-year level of protection.
  • Authorize the Corps of Engineers to make improvements to the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue, and London Avenue drainage canals that significantly contributed to the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
  • Authorizes the Corps of Engineers to close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) that significantly contributed to the flooding of New Orleans.
  • Authorizes the Corps of Engineers to construct 7 new 1,200 foot locks on the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway System to reduce the overall transportation costs in the U.S. inland waterway system, and ensure that U.S. agricultural commodities remain competitive in international markets.
  • Authorizes the Corps of Engineers to undertake the systematic environmental restoration along the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway System.
  • Authorizes the first three projects resulting from the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and fulfill the Federal commitment to restore the Florida Everglades.
  • Authorizes the development of an emergency response plan to address the VHS virus in the Great Lakes.
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