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Hill Letter on H.R. 5303, the "Water Resources Development Act of 2016"
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the
interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state
and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting and
defending America’s free enterprise system, supports H.R. 5303, the “Water Resources
Development Act of 2016 (WRDA)” and urges the House to promptly approve this legislation.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 would ensure the viability of the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works programs including navigation, flood risk management,
recreation, and infrastructure and environmental stewardship. Passage of this bill would be an
important step toward providing critical economic and environmental benefits to the nation. This
bill would authorize new Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works projects.
This measure would continue to build upon the streamlining provisions in the Water
Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, to allow expedited approval for modifications
to existing Corps projects. Additionally, the bill expands the role of local partners in using non-
federal interests in implementation and coordination with Corps projects. Completing WRDA
this year would continue the commitment Congress made in 2014 to authorize new projects
every two years.
The Chamber commends the House for not including provisions that would expand
domestic contracting preferences for vital national water infrastructure projects. While so-called
“Buy America” mandates may appear beneficial to certain areas of the U.S. economy, the reality
is that such requirements are counter-productive and drive up public infrastructure costs, unduly
burden contractor supply chains, and reduce overall project competition.
We are disappointed that the bill before the House did not include Section 108 of the
Committee bill, which would have clarified targets Congress enacted in WRDA 2014 for
increased Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund funding. This provision would ensure that collected
revenue from American businesses is being used for its intended purpose in a timely manner.
We will continue to advocate for this provision as the legislative process moves forward.
The Chamber urges swift passage of H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act
of 2016, so a House and Senate Conference Committee can reconcile the differences and enact
the bill this year.
R. Bruce Josten