Bustos Tapped For Key Leadership Role, Will Continue Fight To Improve Illinois Locks & Dams

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, announced her appointment to the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) Conference Committee, giving Bustos a key leadership role in working to ensure this important bill becomes law. 

“I’m pleased to announce that our bipartisan, common sense solution to modernize our region’s aging locks and dams is one step closer to reality today,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos.  “Improving our locks and dams is critical to our region’s economic health and we can’t afford to wait any longer.  To help jump-start these needed repairs and upgrades, I partnered with Senators Durbin and Kirk and Congressman Davis to put forth a common sense idea that would not only save taxpayer dollars, but could also create jobs and boost the economy of our region of Illinois.  I’m honored today to have been selected to play a key leadership role in working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure this important bill becomes law.”

“Since joining our Committee, Rep. Bustos has been a tireless advocate for improving our transportation systems in order to grow jobs in the Land of Lincoln and across the country,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Congressman Nick Rahall.  “She worked across the aisle to boost investments in our inland waterways as our Committee crafted the WRRDA bill and we will again be relying on her skill and advocacy in getting this pro-jobs initiative across the finish line.”

Last month, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL-13) announced that a key provision of their bipartisan and bicameral legislation which could help speed up repairs and upgrades to the aging locks and dams on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers was approved by the U.S. House Of Representatives.  The provision was included in the House version of the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA), which passed with bipartisan support.  In May, the U.S. Senate passed their version of WRRDA which included a key provision of the WIN P3 Act on a bipartisan vote of 83-14.

In March, Bustos, Durbin, Kirk, and Davis joined together to introduce the Water Infrastructure Now Public-Private Partnership Act (WIN P3 Act), which would help speed improvements to the nation’s water infrastructure—including projects like the aging locks and dams along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers—through public-private partnerships that could expedite projects and save taxpayers money.  The Army Corps of Engineers estimates it is currently carrying a $60 billion backlog of outstanding projects that will take decades to complete without outside investment.

The legislation would create a pilot program lasting five years to identify up to fifteen previously authorized navigation, flood damage reduction, and hurricane and store damage reduction projects and enter into new agreements to decentralize the planning, design and construction of those projects.  The new agreements would also be open to additional private investment. 

Through WRRDA, Congress authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out its missions to develop, maintain, and support our Nation’s vital port and waterways infrastructure needs, and support effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs.  Historically, Congress has passed such legislation every two years to provide clear direction to the Administration and the Corps, but no bill has been signed into law since 2007.

The WRRDA Conference Committee is tasked with working out any differences between the House and Senate passed bills, before sending legislation back to each chamber for a vote, then to the President’s desk to be signed into law.