President Signs Water Resources Bill

October 26, 2018

President Trump signed the biennial water resources development bill (the America’s Water Infrastructure Act) into law on October 23 at a ceremony in the Oval Office – S. 3021 became Public Law 115-270.

Unlike the other recent signing ceremony for the aviation reauthorization bill, this one was open to the public and was attended by Democratic legislators as well as Republicans. (In this case, its was Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).)

During the remarks (transcript here), Trump said “As a candidate, I called for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.  Today, we’re taking another major step toward that goal.  Very important.  This bill authorizes needed funding and tools to enhance our coastal ports; reduce flood risks; restore ecosystems; upkeep our inland waterways, which are in deep, deep trouble, but they won’t be for very long; upgrade our dams, hydropower, and irrigation systems; and improve drinking water treatment, storage, and delivery.”

Trump also alluded to larger infrastructure legislation, saying “And as far as infrastructure goes, I have a feeling that the two gentlemen on my left, two great senators — they happen to be Democrats — we’re going to be doing a lot of infrastructure together.”

After Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY) and John Boozman (R-AR) gave quick statements supporting the bill, Carper said “I’m Tom Carper, and I approve this message” but then added praise for the bill and for R.D. James the civilian head of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The President repeatedly mentioned the wide margin by which the bill passed the Senate: “I think particularly 99 to 1 is something that’s very special, especially in this day and age.  And I think we’re going to have a lot more of it, especially maybe with infrastructure, but other things also.”

After giving all legislators a chance to speak briefly and plug their local issue addressed by the bill, Trump alluded to environmental permitting delays:

And the Army Corps of Engineers, frankly — and I’ll say, previous to Trump, the Army Corps of Engineers was a — wonderful people, but it was a tremendous holdup in terms of the bureaucracy we had to go through.  And I know we’ve made tremendous strides in that.  Sometimes we go through EPA much, much faster than the Army Corps.  And the Army Corps never wanted that.

But they built up artificial roadblocks that just weren’t letting the things get done that we had to have done.  And we have gotten rid of many of them.  We’re getting rid of all of them.  And EPA is moving very, very fast, and the Army Corps is starting to move very quickly, also.  And I very much appreciate that.  We’ve got some incredible projects to go, so I very much appreciate that.

We also learned two new things about the process by which a bill is signed into law.

First, the signing pen is no longer a ball point – it is a big old felt tip.

Second, no more of this practice of giving out multiple pens that were actually used to sign the bill. Trump said “You know, in the old days, the President would sign one letter at a time? And it looked terrible. And you looked at the signature. It really did look terrible.”

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