Water Resources Reauthorization Bill Introduced in Senate

May 10, 2018

On May 8, the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee introduced the biennial water resources bill, this time called “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.”

The introduced bill is numbered S. 2800 – the text as introduced from GPO is not available yet, but the pre-introduction bill text is here and a section-by-section summary is here.

The bill was introduced by EPW chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking minority member Tom Carper (D-DE), Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and subcommittee ranking member Ben Cardin (D-MD).

Statements made by the four Senators at the bill’s introduction are here and the following day, the committee held a hearing on the bill. (The video of the hearing and the prepared statements of witnesses can be found here, but EPW is usually pretty good about posting printed transcripts of its hearings within a week of the hearing, so check that link later on if you prefer reading or control-F searching to watching video.)

The bipartisan unanimity on the bill’s introduction is also a sign that the four leaders will probably also insist on unanimity before they accept any amendments to the bill in the forthcoming committee markup or on the Senate floor (Lord willing, if it gets that far).

However, bipartisanship and unanimity mean what they mean, and that is why the introduced bill does not go as far as may hoped in implementing some of the environmental permitting reforms proposed by the Trump Administration as part of its infrastructure plan.

Since Clean Water Act and Corps of Engineers permitting requirements are often major contributors to delays in the permitting of surface transportation projects, the water bill was a logical vehicle to address these issues, but the need to preserve bipartisan buy-in means that some other legislation will have to be found to make those changes, if they are to be made.

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