U.S. Chamber says all states gain from WRDA passage. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing Congress to pass a reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, a key legislative vehicle for outlining funding priorities related to marine transportation, coastal restoration, flood control, and environmental protection.
In the spring, the Senate passed a WRDA bill and House leaders have said they plan to move a bill this fall, although the debate over pending military action in Syria and a showdown over the debt ceiling and the 2014 appropriations bills could divert the attention of lawmakers.
“Congress has the opportunity to pass the Water Resources Development Act, which would kick-start strategic investment in our ports and inland waterways, increase American competitiveness and, in the process, create hundreds of thousands of high-paying U.S. jobs,” said Janet Kavinoky, executive director of transportation and infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “With smart investment, we can begin to address problems caused by congestion and delays, handle increasing cargo loads efficiently and safely, and power America’s economic growth. A failure to invest in our nation’s waterways will drive up transportation costs and increase prices for businesses and consumers.”
The chamber, as part of its Let’s Rebuild America initiative, on Monday released Waterways Work for America, 50 fact sheets showing the economic importance of waterways for each state. The chamber noted that lack of investment in the nation’s system of locks on the inland waterways costs farmers, energy companies and other bulk shippers billions of dollars in delays. Maritime transportation proponents also say a WRDA bill is necessary to get the ball rolling on several projects to deepen major seaports so they can receive modern vessels and to invest more money to maintain existing depths of harbor channels.
VP Biden visits Port of Baltimore. Vice President Joseph Biden visited the Port of Baltimore Monday to draw attention to the $10 million TIGER grant from the Department of Transportation to increase capacity at the port’s Fairfield Marine Terminal.
The DOT last week awarded $474 million to 52 projects around the nation under the multi-modal, competitive grant program that takes into consideration the economic, safety, and environmental benefits of projects.
Biden was joined by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and members of the Maryland congressional delegation.
The Obama administration has made ports the backdrop for other addresses to promote its economic program, including infrastructure investment. Earlier this year, President Obama visited the ports of Jacksonville and Miami in Florida. – Eric Kulisch