Today the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013 by a vote of 83 to 14. This legislation will ensure the continued investment in our coastal and inland waterways.
It’s no secret that our nation’s aging system of inland waterways and ports are in need of modernization. The lack of investment is catching up to us. Our inland waterways system averages 52 service disruptions per day throughout the system. Manufacturers rely on these waterways to move commodities, finished products and inputs vital to their supply chains. Continued disruptions in the system drive up costs and makes manufacturers less competitive.
The WRDA bill passed by the Senate includes important reforms to improve project delivery and streamline the environmental review process for infrastructure projects sponsored by the Army Corps of Engineers. The legislation also includes a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) pilot program which will help to leverage investments in critical water infrastructure projects. And importantly the bill assesses the critical issue of under-investment in our ports and harbors by increasing authorized funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for harbor maintenance dredging.
The National Association of Manufacturers sent a Key Vote letter to Senators yesterday urging them to support this important bill. We strongly urge the House to take up and pass a WRDA bill as soon as possible. America’s infrastructure is in great need of investment and WRDA provides us an opportunity to start making investments no in our waterways and ports.