The U.S. Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) by a vote of 95-3, bringing an end to months of Senate uncertainty over this essential water infrastructure bill. The $10.6 billion Senate bill includes money for water infrastructure projects across the country, as well as authorizations for over 20 port, levee and dam projects. It also includes $220 million for aid to communities affected by high levels of lead in water, specifically, Flint, Mich.
The legislation still needs to clear the U.S. House of Representatives, which has shown little appetite for some of the provisions included in the Senate version. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a much slimmer bill earlier this year without funding for lead treatment or many of the project authorizations. The Senate version includes many projects not included in the House version and is significantly larger, which will doubtlessly extend the time needed for House debate and, after passage, conference.
Several House staffers have indicated that the Senate package would be contested in the House, because up to eight different House have jurisdiction over projects included in the Senate version. The House and Senate committees with jurisdiction must reconcile differences between the two versions in order to create a final bill for approval.
The House will attempt to pass WRDA before recessing next week for the election, which means conferencing the two versions will be left until the lame duck session immediately after the election.