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Vote Alert

NTU urges all Senators to vote “No” on S. 601, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013

May 8, 2013

NTU urges all Senators to vote “No” on S. 601, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013. With an already-hefty advertised price tag of $12.5 billion over ten years, the legislation would undo or neglect important reforms, leaving taxpayers at risk to foot a far higher bill.

Regarding project authorizations, S. 601 would abdicate Congress’ power of the purse by simply rubber-stamping the recommendations of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers despite an enormous backlog of more than $60 billion in projects. Even as budgetary belt-tightening is required elsewhere across the federal government, S. 601 would roll back 1986’s landmark Section 902 reform by waiving the requirement that projects with significant cost overruns be reauthorized by Congress for the following three years.

Equally troubling are provisions that would shift more of the financial burden of maintaining ports, commercial waterways, and local flood protection projects from the users and direct beneficiaries of those projects, to the federal government at a time when taxpayers can least afford these increased costs. Mandatory payouts from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, a boost in the funding level for Continuing Authority Programs, and federalization of the $2 billion over-budget Olmsted Locks and Dam project are far from the fiscal restraint the federal government should be demonstrating.

By failing to provide much-needed reforms such as prioritization, prudent cost-sharing, and enhanced cost-benefit analysis to ensure that limited taxpayer funds are used responsibly, S. 601 would compound the current problems plaguing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Extending aging projects without reexamination, lessening the “skin-in-the-game” of primary project-users and recipients, and reducing accountability practically ensures that future Congresses will be contending with an even worse backlog of costly and underperforming projects for years to come.

Roll call votes on S. 601 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress and a “No” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.

If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700