March 6, 2020 Legislative Update
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation to Hold Hearing on Worldwide Presence of the Coast Guard
The House T&I Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation will hold a hearing titled “The International Role of the United State Coast Guard” on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 at 10:00 am (Eastern).
More information about the hearing, including testimony, additional background information, and live webcast, can be found here once available.
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Roundtable on WRDA
The House T&I Subcommittee will meet on Friday, March 6, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. in Baldwin Park, California, to conduct a roundtable on “America’s Water Resources Infrastructure: Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).” This is the second field roundtable the Subcommittee is hosting in preparation for WRDA 2020. The discussion will focus on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) water infrastructure projects.
The purpose of the roundtable is to define the challenges states and communities face in addressing local water resources issues and to determine the potential role the Corps can play in resolving America’s water infrastructure needs, specifically in Southern California. Roundtable participants will include representatives from several public and private stakeholder groups with an interest in water resources infrastructure.
Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials hearing titled: “Funding a Robust Freight and Passenger Rail Network.”
On March 4th, the House T&I Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials held a hearing titled, “Funding a Robust Freight and Passenger Rail Network”. Discussions included how the Federal government can be a better partner in repairing and building out robust national freight and passenger rail systems.
Chairman DeFazio of the House T&I Committee (D-OR) proposed a $55 billion investment in rail projects over 5 years in the next surface reauthorization in order to meet future demands, reduce congestion, and meet a state of good repair.
The hearing can be viewed here in its entirety.
Bill to Overhaul Management of Missouri River System Water Projects
On March 5th, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) introduced new legislation to overhaul the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) process for managing water resource projects along the lower Missouri River system. The Lower Missouri River Flood Prevention Program Act is cosponsored by all of the senators from the lower Missouri River basin states, including U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (Iowa), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), and Ben Sasse (Neb.). The bill would establish a new program that would require the USACE to implement a system-wide approach to water development projects to reduce flood risk and improve flood protection along the lower Missouri River.
“After the historic flooding we saw over last spring and in previous years, it is clear that we need to fundamentally change the way the Missouri River is managed,” said Blunt. “Farmers, families, and local officials I’ve talked to are rightly concerned with the lack of progress that has been made in repairing damaged infrastructure and putting stronger protections in place for the future. We can’t just sit by and wait for the next major flood event. This bill will give the Army Corps of Engineers the ability to develop a comprehensive system plan to design and build critical flood control projects that will do a better job of protecting people and property.”
The proposal provides greater efficiencies and streamlining with regard to how the USACE plans for and manages Missouri River water resource development projects from inception to completion. Specifically, the Lower Missouri River Flood Prevention Program Act would:
- Require the Secretary of the Army to administer a program to study, design, and construct water resources development projects, and modify completed water projects, to provide flood protection to affected communities;
- Direct program authority to encompass 735 miles of the Missouri River (from Sioux City, Iowa, to the mouth of the river);
- Require the Secretary of the Army to develop a system plan for reducing flood risk and improving flood resiliency;
- Provide authority, after development of a project feasibility report, for the Secretary of the Army to construct projects where the federal share does not exceed $75 million. This would streamline and facilitate the USACE’s ability to initiate feasibility studies and planning for projects within a certain funding threshold where the agency traditionally has to seek separate authorization for these types of activities;
- Require congressional authorization for projects where the federal share exceeds $75 million. The federal cost-share for feasibility reports and construction would be 80%; and
- Require consultation with applicable federal and state agencies, tribes, and stakeholders.