In the News

Water Resources Development Act Sent To President’s Desk

December 22, 2022   The Waterways Journal

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Washington, D.C.—The Senate overwhelmingly voted to give final congressional approval to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 as part of a must-pass annual defense bill.


By a vote of 83 to 11, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was sent to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

H.R.7776 also included reauthorization language for the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration (MarAd).


WRDA supporters in and out of Congress celebrated the victory for the biennial measure, the fifth in a row.


Major wins singled out by The American Waterways Operators included language significantly tightening the Jones Act waiver process, such as beefing up a president’s role, permanently changing the cost share for inland waterways infrastructure projects to 65 percent general treasury and 35 percent Inland Waterways Trust Fund and establishing a regional dredging pilot program to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to respond quickly to changing river conditions.


Waterways Council Inc. cited language providing more flexibility to manage the Houston Ship barge lanes.

On a 47-47 vote, the Senate rejected an amendment on permitting reform by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) 

According to the Senate Commerce Committee, MarAd provisions authorize $750 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program; $318 million for the Maritime Security Program; $30 million for the Small Shipyard Grant Program; $53.7 million for the state maritime academies; and $15 million for the Marine Highways Program.


The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee cited Coast Guard provisions for a 12th National Security Cutter, six Fast Response Cutters and a commercially available icebreaker.

Omnibus Bill

Racing against the clock and a major storm, the Senate easily approved a procedural motion to proceed to a massive bipartisan $1.7 trillion omnibus bill that provides fiscal year 2023 funding through September 30.


With support from 21 Republicans, the 70-25 vote clearly signaled H.R. 2617, the 4,155-page legislative vehicle for the omnibus, should have a smooth ride out of the Senate to the House.


Under a stopgap measure both chambers approved last week, funding for federal agencies was scheduled to expire Friday.

The Biden administration urged swift passage of the legislation.


Covering all 12 of the annual spending bills, the package includes $8.66 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works program, and for the second year in a row it meets the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund target, providing $2.318 billion to maintain and modernize the nation’s waterways.

“The annual net economic benefit generated by the Corps’ civil works mission is estimated to be $89 billion, which equates to a return of about $12 for every dollar expended,” the bill summary stated.


The summary put the amount provided to improve the nation’s water infrastructure at $10.24 billion.


“Funding for the Corps will be used to build projects that reduce the risk of flood and storm damage, improve the efficiency of our ports, harbors and inland waterways and restore aquatic environments,” the summary reported.


The National Waterways Conference highlighted the provision requiring a work plan from the Corps no later than 60 days after enactment of bill.


For investigations, the bill provides $172.5 million; construction, $1.8 billion, which includes $72.3 million for the continuing authorities program; operation and maintenance, nearly $5.1 billion, which includes additional funding to the National Levee Flood Inventory; and Mississippi River and Tributaries, $370 million.


The package also includes $226 million to stop invasive carp from reaching the Great Lakes.