Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s floor speech
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, spoke on the Senate floor about the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022, which the House and Senate recently passed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Below is the floor speech of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) highlighting key wins in WRDA, as delivered:
“Thank you, Mr. President. I thank my chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee for his great statement but also his great work through the year.
“He did mention several of the bipartisan wins that we have. Many of them have been unanimous through the committee because we all know, we know, you can’t get everything you want. You got to give a little to get a little. And so, I salute him and our staffs for being able to work that out.
“But today, I want to also briefly talk for a few minutes about the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2022.
“The chairman described it. It’s kind of nice to get up here and talk about something that’s already passed. So, we don’t really have to be persuasive, we’re just reminding members of how important this is in their districts and across their states.
“I am grateful to my colleagues for their support of this legislation, and I am pleased that it is now on the way to the president’s desk for his signature.
“Through WRDA, Congress authorizes water resources projects and sets national policies for the Civil Works Program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“I live about half a mile from a river that has a lot of commerce on it. It’s very important that the Corps is able to do their work.
“The work of the Corps facilitates commerce throughout the country and internationally.
“Projects along our inland waterways and at our ports enable the movement of cargo, while also bolstering our supply chain.
“We know that natural disasters, such as floods and hurricanes, can strike at any time and have devastating consequences on our communities.
“But the Corps’ work to protect the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans is supported by congressional authorization of flood and coastal storm risk management policies that are contained within this bill.
“Since 2014, as the chairman said, we have enacted WRDA every two years, and I am happy to say that we are carrying on that tradition.
“I want to thank Chairman Carper for his leadership and dedication, and I’d also want to thank our colleagues in the House: chairman of the T&I Committee, which I served twelve years, Chairman Peter DeFazio and Ranking Member Sam Graves. They did great work here and we were able to work out our differences.
“We would not be here today without their tireless efforts to reach an agreement that addresses the priorities from members of both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol.
“I would also like to thank two senators from our committee, Senators Cardin and Cramer. We are the four C’s we call ourselves: Cardin, Cramer, Carper, and Capito. If you can say that quickly you’re in better shape than we’re going to be later on tonight as we vote late I think, I hope.
“I’d like to thank them for their support and partnership during this process.
“And I want to express my gratitude, as the chairman did, to the staff of our committee, the staff of T and I, the staff of the Army Corps of Engineers for their technical assistance, and to House and Senate Legislative Counsel for their diligence, professionalism, and commitment to many long hours throughout this process.
“I am pleased that our final agreement with the House maintained the vast majority of the provisions that were in our Senate bill.
“True to the Corps’ tradition, this bill moves forward projects that benefit both local communities and the entire country.
“Specifically, the WRDA bill authorizes 25 new projects and 6 modifications to existing projects around the country, including projects for navigation, flood and coastal storm risk management, and ecosystem restoration.
“And, it authorizes more than 100 feasibility studies that will develop solutions to water resources challenges in our years ahead. So smart, I think to look to the future.
“While this bill is very much oriented toward advancing critical projects and studies in our states, it also includes several policy changes that will help the Corps better succeed in civil works missions.
“The bill bolsters the agency’s technical assistance authorities, specifically, the Floodplain Management Services and Planning Assistance to States programs. Every state is different and we know that some of these challenges are vast.
“It authorizes the Corps to conduct outreach, and the chairman mentioned this, to ensure that our communities are knowledgeable in the ways in which the agency can help them with their water resources needs.
“The bill makes important improvements to the Tribal Partnership Program and other authorities to assist our Indian Tribes.
“It also expands existing programs and includes new authorities to assist communities that are economically disadvantaged, including those located in rural areas.
“It requires reporting on timelines for the environmental review process for projects. We know that is essential.
“The bill directs the GAO [Government Accountability Office] to conduct a review of projects that are over-budget and delayed, as well as a review of the Corps’ mitigation practices for these projects.
“It provides flexibility, every state’s different, to our non-federal sponsors with respect to financial accounting and fulfilling cost-share obligations for projects.
“It also authorizes for the first time a dedicated research and development account for the Corps to spur innovation, and provides contracting flexibility in undertaking these activities.
“The bill directs the Corps to support science, technology, engineering, and math, for our STEM fields, education and recruit individuals for careers at the agencies.
“The input of non-federal interests is critical to successfully solving water infrastructure challenges now and in the future.
“So, the bill establishes a new advisory committee for non-federal interests to voice their opinions on how the Corps can better meet their needs and improve project delivery.
“We also preserve the integral role of non-federal sponsors in the project delivery process by avoiding mandates from Washington D.C. and ensuring that the Corps continues to evaluate a full array of solutions during the feasibility study phase.
“In addition to my role as ranking member of the EPW [Committee], I represent the great state of West Virginia, where my chairman was born, and I worked to address the needs of my home state in this bill.
“I’ll just give a few highlights that will benefit the lives of West Virginians:
“First, the legislation advances a critical flood control project in the City of Milton. Authorized in the 1990s, this project is a long time coming, and I am proud to have helped it move forward in these recent years.
“The bill also works to support flood control studies for the Kanawha River Basin and also in the City of Huntington.
“It continues to provide environmental infrastructure assistance for drinking and wastewater in our communities throughout the state.
“Finally, the bill will provide additional critical support to riverbank stabilization projects such as those in the Kanawha River in the capital city.
“In closing, there is a lot in this bill for both sides of the aisle, and for communities across the country.
“It is the culmination of a true bipartisan, bicameral effort and represents our shared goal of addressing our nation’s water resources needs.
“I’m incredibly proud of our EPW Committee as we continue to be one of the most active, cooperative, and fruitful committees of this Congress.
“And I would say as a side note, when people ask me how do we get things done? How do we find the answer to something like permitting reform? You use the committees. You use our committee or another committee to find the solutions and get the ideas from both sides and hammer out the differences. That’s how you get things across the finish line.
“Again, the chairman went through the staff and I’m going to take the liberty of going through the staff too because I want to thank them as well. They worked many long nights on this.
“From Chairman Carper’s staff: Mary Frances Repko, John Kane, Jordan Baugh, Mayely Boyce, Tyler Hofmann-Reardon, Milo Goodell, and Janine Barr.
“From my staff I’d like to thank Adam Tomlinson, Murphie Barrett, Max Hyman, Kim Townsend, Katherine Scarlett, and Haden Miller.
“Would also like to thank the Senate Leg Counsel, Deanna Edward and Mark Mazzone.
“And the US Army Corps of Engineers staff: Amy Klein, Dave Wethington, and countless other attorneys and technical staffs.
“We could not have done this without them most certainly, and we want them to know how much we appreciate their efforts on behalf of not just the committee, but on behalf of the American people.
“So, thank you all, all of us here in the chamber for getting WRDA 2022 across the line. And with that, I appreciate my colleagues for supporting this important legislation, and I’m looking forward to seeing the president sign it.”
“And with that, I yield back, Mr. President.”
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