Legislation to Prevent Federal Overreach in Regulation of Nation’s Waters Introduced by Committee Leaders

Bipartisan legislation to uphold the federal-state partnership to regulate the Nation’s waters and prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing a rule that broadens the scope of the Clean Water Act and expands the federal government’s regulatory power was introduced in the House today by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders.

The Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act (H.R. 5078) is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, and is cosponsored by Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and a bipartisan group of additional Members of the House.  A Committee markup scheduled for 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, July 16, 2014 will include H.R. 5078.


Shuster Statement on the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) released the following statement on H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, a bill introduced in the House by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), and cosponsored by Shuster:

“We have an immediate, critical need to address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and extend the current surface transportation law.  This bill does that in a responsible way with policies that have all previously received strong bipartisan and bicameral support.  If Congress fails to act, thousands of transportation projects and hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country will be at risk.


Bucshon and Gibbs Host Facebook Q&A to Discuss Innovation in Transportation

This Wednesday at 2:00 pm ET, the 

Bring your questions about driverless vehicles and connected vehicle technologies to the Transportation Facebook Page. The conversation will be led by T&I Members Larry Bucshon and Bob Gibbs, who will speak on their experiences riding in Carnegie Melon University's driverless car and how innovations in transportation will shape our future.


House Passes Historic Measure to Strengthen Water Resources Infrastructure & America’s Competitiveness

The House of Representatives today overwhelmingly (412 to 4) approved bipartisan water resources reform legislation that cuts federal red tape and bureaucracy, streamlines the infrastructure project delivery process, fosters fiscal responsibility, and strengthens our water transportation networks to promote America’s competitiveness, prosperity, and economic growth.

The House passed the Conference Report to H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA), a bill originally introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY).  The Conference Report represents the bipartisan, bicameral agreement between House and Senate conferees responsible for negotiating a final measure between the House- and Senate-passed versions of the bill.


The Earmark Ban's Progress

A water bill shows what happens when Congress has to set priorities.

Congressional cries to restore earmarks are mounting, and a new favorite argument is that the spenders need the pork authority to properly exercise their Constitutional power of the purse. But if you look at what's happening inside Congress, the opposite is true: The earmark ban is producing more spending accountability and oversight.

Consider the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which is scheduled for a House vote Tuesday. Water spending bills in the recent past were earmarking extravaganzas. The Army Corps of Engineers would recommend the most pressing water needs. Congress would ignore those and focus spending on hundreds of Member projects.

When Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin now pines for the days when earmarks were the "glue" holding bills together, what he's really missing is leadership's power to dole out home-state patronage. Pork-barrel Republicans who say the earmark ban has transferred spending power to the President are excusing their own unwillingness to set priorities.

Remarkable to behold, something like priority-setting has happened in the current water bill, the first to go through Congress since the 2011 earmark ban. Under the process established by Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, the Army Corps publishes a federal notice requesting water proposals from non-federal entities.

The Corps reviews them and sends an annual public report to Congress listing the purpose of each proposal, its purported benefits, statements of support and costs. Congress then chooses which projects to approve. Only those included in the Corps report are eligible for authorization.

This process put House Members in control of spending decisions, even as it required them to choose on the basis of fact and analysis—rather than logrolling. Mr. Shuster and Water Resources Subcommittee Chair Bob Gibbs worked both sides of the aisle to agree on priorities, and the initial bill passed 417-3 in October.

The Senate relied on the Corps to select its water projects and the final cost of $12.3 billion is closer to the Senate's more costly request. Yet every project in the final conference committee bill, released Thursday, was subject to the House vetting process. And the price tag is still far less than the $23 billion porkfest of 2007.


Committee Releases Water Resources Reform and Development Act Conference Report

The Conference Report to H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), was filed in the House of Representatives today.  WRRDA was introduced in the House by Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY). 

H.R. 3080 passed the House by a vote of 417 to 3 on October 23, 2013.  House and Senate conferees reached agreement on a final measure last week, and now both Houses of Congress must approve the Conference Report in order to send it to the President to be signed into law.

“This measure will strengthen our Nation’s transportation network, keep America competitive in the global marketplace, and reform and streamline the way we move forward with improvements to our ports, locks, dams, and other water resources infrastructure,” Shuster said.  “This legislation is about jobs and our country’s economic prosperity, and I look forward to bringing it back to the House for a final vote.”


Boxer, Shuster, Vitter and Rahall Announce Agreement on Bipartisan, Bicameral WRRDA Conference

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Senator David Vitter (R-LA), EPW Committee Ranking Member, and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), Transportation Committee Ranking Member, issued the following statement on the bipartisan, bicameral agreement that has been reached on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) conference report: 

We are proud to deliver what the American public wants and needs. This conference report maintains ports and navigation routes for commerce and the movement of goods, provides flood control that protects lives and property, and restores vital ecosystems to preserve our natural heritage. This important measure will strengthen our Nation’s infrastructure and keep America competitive in the global marketplace.”


U.S. Needs Fair Regulation of Water, Not Folly of Obama's Imperial Powergrab

Last week the Obama administration released a proposal that could lengthen the already long arm of federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), into the affairs of practically every U.S. business, farmer, landowner, and local and state government.

According to the administration, the intent of this proposed rule is to “clarify” which waterbodies are subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act.

In reality, this action is another attempt by this imperial presidency to circumvent Congressional intent in order to dramatically expand federal jurisdiction over waters and wet areas in the United States and break down the well established limits to the federal government’s power over the American people.

Signed into law in 1972, the Clean Water Act has had a tremendous positive impact on water quality in our country. The law established a balanced, reasonable partnership between the states and the federal government, which has led to significantly less pollution and cleaner water for the country.

Under the Act, the federal government’s and the EPA’s regulatory reach was intentionally limited to “navigable waters”; the law was designed to exempt some bodies of water, such as backyard ponds, where there is not a federal interest, and leave any regulation of those areas to the states, if they so choose.