September 12, 2013
The strength of the American economy is an issue that lies at the forefront of all of our minds over the past few months, whether it’s from reading dismal jobs reports or hearing about the overregulation placed on businesses, our economy is hurting. Another factor many people don’t realize is that our transportation and infrastructure directly affect our nation’s economy. Whether it is roads to drive on or waterways to ship our exports; safe and reliable transportation throughout our country makes us globally competitive.
Chairman Shuster and I rolled out the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) this week with the intent to enhance our transportation systems. For the first time since 2007, the House will take up WRRDA. This legislation will support our nation’s vital ports and maritime transportation systems by establishing and maintaining an infrastructure network that will uphold the seminal federal responsibility to maintain a robust transportation system.
Our inland waterways and seaports have linked America directly to the global economy helping our home grown businesses reach store fronts overseas. Nearly one-third of our GDP is derived from international trade and 99 percent of that trade passes through our nation’s ports. This bill presents Congress with an important opportunity to help make much needed reforms and cut red tape that will ultimately clear a pathway for innovation. With 13 million jobs tied to waterways infrastructure, investing in our maritime transportation is an investment we can make for the future in good conscience.
This WRRDA bill also addresses changes to the way that the Army Corp of Engineers conducts its business in terms of infrastructure projects. When the Corp takes on a project it typically takes 10 to 15 years to complete these studies, when in reality it should take only up to three years. The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for maintaining our ports and waterways infrastructure but when it comes time to make improvements many sit years without an evaluation for years. Our country’s trade volume is expected to double within the next decade and double again in 2030. If our infrastructure is unable to safely and effectively transport these goods we will lose our ground as a major global competitor.
WRRDA is a bill that aims to cut red tape, streamline the review process, cut costs and continue to protect the environment all while administering improvements to our infrastructure system. It is one of the most policy and reform driven measures that we have seen in the last two decades. This bill contains no earmarks and makes major reforms to increase transparency and allowing for Congressional oversight in reviewing future water resource development projects.