WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which contains a key provision that Bustos helped get included that would speed up repairs to the aging locks and dams on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
In March, Bustos joined with Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Mark Kirk, and Congressman Rodney Davis to introduce the Water Infrastructure Now Public-Private Partnership Act (WIN P3 Act), which authorizes improvements to the nation’s water infrastructure—including 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 Bustos provision included in the WRRDA bill to be voted on today is modeled on the WIN P3 Act.
Bustos’ prepared remarks are below and the video footage can be found HERE:
I rise today to talk about an important provision that I worked hard with a bipartisan group of Illinois Senators and House members to have included in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act.
This bill, also known as WRRDA, is a vital piece of legislation that Congress will consider later today.
Our provision would help improve the nation’s water infrastructure – including the aging locks and dams along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers – through public-private partnerships that would expedite projects and save taxpayers money.
It comes from a House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, bill called the Water Infrastructure Now Public-Private Partnership Act.
I was proud to introduce this bill earlier this year with Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois.
Our provision would help clear a $60 billion backlog in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects that will take decades to complete without outside investment.
It does this by creating a pilot program to explore agreements between the Army Corps of Engineers and private entities as alternatives to traditional financing, planning, design, and construction models.
The Mississippi and Illinois Rivers are absolutely critical to the economic well-being of my region of Illinois, the entire Midwest and United States, and even the world.
These locks and dams were built during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt and are close to 80 years old.
That is why action must be taken to expand and modernize the locks and dams that help transport our goods and products world-wide.
By encouraging public-private partnerships, our bipartisan effort will help make the movement of the high-quality goods of our region – whether they be from any of the numerous farmers and manufacturers that call Illinois home – more swift, efficient and safe.
To put this in perspective, the Mississippi River is the world’s largest navigable inland waterway.
On it, 60 percent of the nation’s agricultural goods are transported. It is critical to American commerce that the smooth movement of goods is as efficient as possible and practical.
Our bill fits perfectly into this equation. And it's good for the taxpayer, the farmer and industry. I'm proud of that.
In addition to our efforts to improve our nation’s locks and dams, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act contains many other provisions that will boost local economies across our country.
The WRRDA bill will lead to upgraded water transportation systems and offer vulnerable communities better protection against flooding.
It will promote America’s competitiveness, prosperity, and economic growth for years to come.
I came to Congress to work with those I don’t always agree with to find common sense, reasonable solutions to create jobs and lay the foundation for a stronger middle class.
I was proud that the WRRDA bill passed out of the House Transportation Committee on a bipartisan, unanimous basis.
I give credit to Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, Ranking Member Nick Rahall, Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs, Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop and all my colleagues on the committee for their hard work over the last year.
It is truly an example of Congressional Republicans and Democrats working together that I hope to see more of in this chamber in the months ahead.
I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this important job-creating bill when it comes to the floor later today.