Republicans and Democrats in the House worked late last night to pass the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) (H.R. 8) with overwhelmingly bipartisan support in a vote of 408–2.
WRDA is the legislative vehicle for approving projects to upgrade ports, locks, dams and flood protection systems vital to manufacturers’ economic competitiveness. In the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) key-vote letter to the House, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse wrote, “Manufacturers continue to efficiently move goods by ensuring reliable federal investments in these critical pieces of our nation’s supply chain. Reliable and consistent authorizations for Army Corps civil works projects are required to upgrade and modernize harbors and ports as well as aging inland waterway lock systems, many of which have been around since the Depression’s public works expansion era or post–World War II.”
The NAM has worked for many years to restore certainty to the legislative process for authorizing civil works projects built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and yesterday’s action demonstrates that even in a heated political environment, Republicans and Democrats can work together to modernize U.S. infrastructure. Now, the NAM remains committed to investing in the infrastructure manufacturers need to remain competitive. Passing WRDA into law will maintain the certainty manufacturers need. However, manufacturers continue to urge for increased investment to build a 21st-century infrastructure system. This should include reforms to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure user fees are directed to investment in projects to modernize our nation’s ports and harbors.