U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Budget
And the Nation’s Water Resources Needs
Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Environment and Public Works
Statement of Senator Max Baucus
March 15, 2007
Welcome to the first hearing of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. In particular, I welcome Senator Isakson, who is the new Ranking Republican Member of the subcommittee this Congress.
In the book of Isaiah, God said: “I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground.”
And in our vast Country, water continues to bring life. Without our waters, our land would indeed be thirsty. Without our streams, our land would indeed be dry.
My home state of Montana has 11,000 miles of blue ribbon trout streams. Montana is home to the mighty Missouri River and the beautiful Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone is the longest remaining free-flowing river in the country. And Montana’s Fort Peck reservoir provides outstanding recreation for the eastern part of my state.
This morning, we will examine the management of America’s water resources. The Army Corps of Engineers builds levees and floats barges. But we in Montana see the Corps as restorers of the ecosystem. We see the Corps as guardians of America’s recreational assets.
We value the Corps’ expertise and their partnership in many of our water resources projects.
In 1986, Congress enacted the Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA. Every 2 years since then, Congress received a WRDA bill from the administration, seeking authorization for water resources projects. This pattern of requests provided the Corps and local sponsors with a regular planning schedule for the development of needed water resources projects.
This administration, however, has yet to request one update of WRDA.
Have all the water resources needs of the country have been met?
No. And I think that my Colleagues, especially the Senator from Louisiana, would agree. His folks in Morganza have been waiting for a flood-control project for more than 6 years now.
No, there are scores of water resources projects awaiting authorization.
Does the administration think that WRDA costs too much?
Perhaps it does think that. But investing in our water infrastructure is a cost that we cannot put off. Levees are crumbling. And people are living in harm’s way, waiting for WRDA.
We need to keep one thing about WRDA in mind. It is an authorization bill. It is just the first step.
Once Congress enacts WRDA, the appropriations process must begin. Appropriations bills need to make tough choices with limited federal dollars to choose among the programs that WRDA authorizes.
I expect that Mr. Woodley is going to tell us about that today. I bet that he wishes that he had more money to do his job. But he has to set priorities.
We here need to set priorities, too.
Our first priority is to authorize the long overdue projects in a WRDA bill this year. I hope that we can get the administration’s support to do that this year.
We passed a bill last year. Let’s get it enacted this year.
Let us do our part to ensure the management of the waters that keep our land from thirst. Let us do our part for the streams that meander across our ground. And let us do our part to ensure that our waters continue to bring life