Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a legislative hearing on S. 2800, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

For more information on James’ testimony click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Last week, our committee held the first legislative hearing on S. 2800, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

“Today, I am very pleased to welcome to the committee R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

“This second hearing on the bill is an opportunity to get the agency’s insight and feedback on our legislation.

“Next week, this committee will mark up this important legislation.

“We plan to add a bipartisan manager’s amendment to the bill to further improve it.

“America’s Water Infrastructure Act is bipartisan piece of legislation I introduced with Committee Ranking Member Carper, Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Chairman Inhofe, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Cardin.

“The bill is now also cosponsored by Senator Capito, Senator Van Hollen, Senator Wicker, and Senator Boozman.

“At last week’s hearing, we heard broad support for the legislation from state leaders, from farmers, from civil engineers, and from other stakeholders.

“The committee has received letters and statements of support from a wide-ranging number of organizations including: the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Audubon Society, and the National Rural Water Association.

“Water infrastructure is important to every community in this country.

“These systems support economic growth and competitiveness.

“They provide water for cattle and for crops.

“They are used to ship goods.

“They deliver drinking water and address wastewater.

“They keep homes safe from dangerous floods and they provide water in times of drought.

“I cannot overstate the importance of the nation’s water infrastructure systems.

“America’s Water Infrastructure Act will help deepen nationally significant ports, and fix aging dams and irrigation systems.

“This bill will maintain the navigability of inland waterways, and increase water storage in the West.

“It’s reform legislation to get projects moving and make government more efficient.

“America’s Water Infrastructure Act will cut bureaucratic red tape.

“The legislation will give local leaders and stakeholders a greater role in deciding which Army Corps projects should be priorities.

“That’s good news for small, for rural, and for inland states.

“Local leaders know which projects would have the greatest impact in their communities.

“The bill includes a study by the National Academy of Sciences on how to improve, structure, and manage the Army Corps.

“This study will let us know how to further reform the agency.

“Our legislation includes permitting reform for important water storage projects.

“These reforms should allow for the development of more water storage, which is critical to communities in Wyoming and across the West.

“The successful Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act program, or WIFIA, is reauthorized in this bill.

“This will authorize millions of dollars to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure.

“Under WIFIA, those dollars will leverage to billions of dollars in investment.

“Programs like WIFIA get taxpayers more bang for their buck.

“And we are working on additional changes to the bill that will help smaller rural communities leverage WIFIA dollars to build needed infrastructure.

The bill is bipartisan.

“It is fiscally responsible

“It will have a real impact in rural America and across the nation.

“I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on this committee to advance this important infrastructure legislation.”