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 on the Senate floor on the need to pass S. 3021, America’s Water Infrastructure Act.
America’s Water Infrastructure Act is the most sweeping infrastructure package to be considered this Congress. It grows the economy, keeps communities safe, cuts red tape and is fiscally responsible. The House of Representatives passed the legislation by voice vote.
For more information on the legislation, click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Water infrastructure – a bill that we have just moved forward by a vote of 96 to 3.
“Water infrastructure is important to every state - as we see by this vote - every territory, every community, and every tribe in the country.
“These systems support America’s economic growth and competitiveness.
“They deliver drinking water and treat wastewater.
“They provide water for crops, cattle, and small businesses.
“They’re used to ship American-made goods from the heartland, to the coasts, and around the world.
“They keep homes safe from dangerous floodwaters and they store water for times of drought.
“These systems are vital to our country.
“We must maintain, upgrade, and – where necessary - build them.
“During the State of the Union address this year, President Trump called on Congress to act on infrastructure.
“He said we will build America’s infrastructure ‘with American heart, American hands, and American grit.’
“Water infrastructure is a major part of the President’s call.
“That’s why I introduced America’s Water Infrastructure Act along with my fellow leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senators Carper, Inhofe, and Cardin.
“Several other committee members were also cosponsors including Senators Capito, Wicker, Van Hollen, Boozman, Whitehouse, and Sullivan.
“Politico called America’s Water Infrastructure Act: ‘The most significant infrastructure legislation to be taken up under the Trump administration so far.’
“The legislation passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously, 21 to zero.
“Last month, the same leaders from our committee and the leadership of the committees in the House of Representatives reached a deal on historic, comprehensive water infrastructure legislation.
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act now has broad, bicameral and bipartisan support.
“Our bill will help grow the economy, will cut Washington red tape, and it will keep communities safe.
“Authorizing important water projects will create jobs that will spur economic growth.
“The legislation will help deepen nationally significant ports, and maintain the navigability of inland waterways.
“It’s going to increase water storage in the West and build new flood management infrastructure.
“This bill will fix aging dams and irrigation systems across the country.
“Upgrading these systems will ensure that ranchers and farmers will get the water they rely on.
“It will also help communities recover from devastating storms – like hurricane Florence and the damage it left along the East Coast - especially in North and South Carolina.
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act also cuts Washington red tape.
“As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I have heard time and time again how state and local leaders know better than Washington which projects would have the most positive impact on their community.
“Our bill will give local experts an increased role in prioritizing which Army Corps projects get built.
“When a local partner takes over an Army Corps of Engineers flood control project, they will no longer need to worry about obtaining brand new permits.
“The Army Corps will transfer its authority to the local partner – so new permits are no longer necessary.
“The government will also provide technical assistance to smaller communities, to make it simpler for them to comply with environmental laws.
“Leveraging federal dollars is an important element of President Trump’s infrastructure plan.
“We included language to help smaller rural communities leverage resources, so they can build water infrastructure projects.
“Federal leveraging programs – particularly the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act – allow taxpayers to get the most bang for their buck.
“In the past Mr. President, smaller rural communities have had trouble accessing these dollars.
“The language in our consensus bill will give these rural areas the chance to compete for these funds and the ability to participate in these successful programs.
“Cutting red tape and increasing access to these leveraging programs will help us get projects done faster, better, cheaper and smarter.
“That’s just common sense.
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act is also about safety.
“In recent years, we have seen the damage floods and droughts can cause.
“We must maintain and improve our dams, beach fronts, levees, and reservoirs.
“Our bill takes steps to address the backlog of maintenance needs of these infrastructure systems.
“It also creates a permanent program to find solutions for floods caused by ice jams.
“In the spring, and certainly in Wyoming, thawing ice and snow create jams in rivers and cause them to overflow their banks.
“In my home state of Wyoming, ice jam floods have been devastating for the towns of Greybull and Worland.
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act authorizes important programs to find permanent ways to prevent these types of floods.
“This bill is about more than just flood prevention – it’s the most significant drinking water legislation in decades.
“The bill authorizes funds to repair aging drinking water systems.
“For the first time since 1996 – that’s 22 years ago - Congress will authorize the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds.
“These funds give states certainty that they can meet their drinking water needs.
“Now that is a big deal, Mr. President.
“There’s a line people say in Wyoming – that’s originally been attributed to Mark Twain – that ‘Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.’
“That’s not the case with America’s Water Infrastructure Act.
“Democrats and Republicans are working together – in a bipartisan way.
“The House of Representatives passed the consensus bill unanimously, by voice vote.
“Now it’s the Senate’s turn.
“We all know how important this legislation is for our country, our states, and our constituents.
“The bill is bipartisan and it’s fiscally responsible.
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act reduces the deficit.
“I want to thank Ranking Member Carper, Subcommittee Chairman Inhofe, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Cardin and their staffs for their leadership in this process.
“They have been great partners in writing legislation that will have a real impact.
“The bill is for all of America.
“It will have a real impact in our rural areas and in our big cities.
“It will help communities in the heartland and on the coasts.
“Let’s pass America’s Water Infrastructure Act and send it to President Trump for his signature.”