Senate WRDA Bill Creates New Programs, Lacks Reforms

Washington — The Senate is expected to vote to proceed to consideration of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (S. 2848). For the past several years, The Heritage Foundation, Heritage Action and various conservative groups have urged lawmakers to make real conservative reforms to this massive infrastructure spending bill, such as eliminating the process that is used to essentially evade the earmark moratorium, reducing spending, aggressively de-authorizing backlogged projects, ensuring that no new mandatory spending is authorized, and reducing the cost burden for federal taxpayers on shared state and local projects.   Heritage Action released the following statement from vice president for communications and government relations Dan Holler:

“Not only does S. 2848 fail to include much needed reforms, the bill would create new federal programs that increase bureaucracy and further entrench federal involvement in local programs — not just in Flint, Michigan, but all across the country.  As drafted, Senators should oppose the Senate’s Water Resource Development Act because it expands the federal government and continues to spend taxpayer money with little to no accountability. Any attempt to block a full, open and transparent debate and amendment process would be further indication the bill is not in the best interests of the American people.”

In a new issue brief, The Heritage Foundation’s Michael Sargent explains that “Neither the House nor Senate bills commit to making sweeping reforms to water resources funding that would improve accountability and limit waste.” On the drinking water and environmental provisions in S. 2848, Sargent writes:

“In addition to typical WRDA provisions, the Senate bill contains substantial proposals meant to address drinking water infrastructure as a response to troubling water crises in places like Flint, Michigan. Though these terrible incidents should be addressed, they are best handled by state and local institutions, and not the federal government.“Title VII of the Senate bill, however, permanently expands the federal government’s role in funding local water infrastructure by establishing new programs and increasing funding levels for existing ones. It also authorizes various sums for the EPA to carry out environmental conservation activities. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that these provisions will cost more than $6 billion through 2021. Furthermore, the bill will result in $270 million in direct appropriations to the EPA and other agencies—an anomaly for an authorization bill.”

Read More: WRDA: The Water Resources Development Act in the 114th Congress