The House version of the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA), H.R. 5030 has been released, and Democrats are incensed. The main point of contention is the removal of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Provision (HMTF); currently some of the fees collected are diverted for other purposes, but under the bipartisan WRDA passed out of committee earlier this year all fees collected would have been used for maintenance of ports and dams. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., indicated that Democrats would oppose H.R. 5030 as a result of this exclusion.
Action on H.R. 5030 is expected next week. Some of the Democrats’ frustration is also be tied in with the Senate GOP’s release of a highly politicized Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the federal government through Dec. 9, but neglects to include funding for Flint, MI. The exclusion of the HMTF may or may not kill WRDA in the house, but without a Flint resolution, chances of WRDA passage recede even further. WRDA and the CR have become intertwined as a result of Flint and until a resolution on Flint funding is reached, both are in jeopardy.
“Both the Senate CR and the House discussions on WRDA are very fluid and will likely change before Congress recesses for the election” said Ashley Amidon, NSSGA director of government affairs. “Even if the House passes WRDA before leaving, it will necessitate conferencing the House and Senate versions, so there will be no certainty on the final version for some time. NSSGA is pushing House and Senate leaders to work out both a CR and a process for finalizing WRDA soon, to provide certainty.”