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 committee business meeting.
At the business meeting, the committee considered the following items:
- Substitute amendment to S.3591, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020; and
- Substitute amendment to S.3590, Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020.
To watch the full business meeting, click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today, the committee is voting on two bipartisan infrastructure bills: America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020; and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020.
“The bills are ideal compliments to the bipartisan highway bill that the committee has already reported with a vote of 21-0.
“Together, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, and these two bills, will be critical to our economic recovery after the immediate pandemic response is behind us.
“I would like to specifically thank Ranking Member Carper, Subcommittee Chairs and Ranking Members Capito, Cardin, Cramer and Duckworth for their ongoing, tireless efforts to craft these two important bills.
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 is bipartisan legislation and includes input from every member of this committee and the Senate as a whole.
“The bill will help grow the economy, cut Washington red tape, and keep communities safe.
“The legislation provides $17 billion in new federal authorizations for Corps and EPA projects and programs.
“It will help deepen nationally significant ports, maintain the navigability of inland waterways, will fix aging dams and irrigation systems, and upgrade waste water systems across the country.
“The bill will increase water storage in the West and help build new flood management infrastructure in the Midwest.
“Many flood protection projects in the heartland are not funded because their property values are not as high as property values on the coasts.
“Our bill will make it possible for these important projects, including those in rural and disadvantaged areas, to get funded and built.
“It also includes new water storage provisions to study, construct, or enlarge small water storage projects.
“Many states in the West, like Wyoming, want the ability to provide more water for farmers and ranchers.
“Our bill will enable the construction of smaller reservoir projects and expand existing reservoirs in these states.
“Too often, important water projects are delayed because of drawn-out environmental reviews.
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 cuts Washington red tape.
“It will push the Army Corps to take just two years to complete its feasibility studies for potential projects.
“The goal is in line with the standard President Trump set for federal infrastructure permits.
“Our bill will also allow other federal agencies to review Army Corp’s categorical exclusions, and if appropriate, adopt similar categorical exclusions.
“These exclusions will get needed projects started faster.
“Many communities also need assistance complying with burdensome environmental laws and regulations.
“The legislation increases funding for technical assistance and training programs for small, rural, and tribal municipalities.
“The bill also includes important provisions to help smaller rural communities leverage federal dollars and waive cost-share requirements so they can implement needed infrastructure projects.
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 also makes safety a priority.
“In recent years, we have seen the damage that floods and droughts can cause.
“Our bill takes steps to address the maintenance backlog of dams, levees, and reservoirs that protect so many communities around the country.
“The bill also contains provisions to fight the threat of invasive species.
“Drinking water systems are also critical.
“The Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 provides an estimated $1.25 billion in federal authorizations to help communities ensure their drinking water is safe.
“The bill reauthorizes the Safe Drinking Water Act emergency fund to provide assistance to communities facing drinking water emergencies.
“Our legislation requires 20 percent of the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds be used on grants, no interest loans, or debt relief to help public water systems.
“The provision will give struggling systems a chance to provide safe and reliable drinking water to their communities.
“The bill also makes it simpler for schools and childcare programs to test for lead in their drinking water.
“I want to thank all the members of this committee for their hard work in writing these bills.
“The bills before us today will support our recovering economy, will cut Washington red tape, will help keep communities safe, and will improve Americans’ quality of life.
“President Trump has called on Congress to pass infrastructure legislation.
“Our highway infrastructure legislation, combined with these two water infrastructure bills, will answer the president’s call to help revive our nation’s economy once we have moved beyond the immediate heath crisis.”