Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing titled, “The Water Resources Development Act of 2024: Non-Federal Stakeholder Views.”
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as delivered.
“Thank you, Chairman Carper, and welcome to our witnesses.
“As the chairman said, today’s hearing serves as the Committee’s official kickoff for the development of the Water Resources Development Act of 2024.
“Since 2014, this Committee has kept to the biennial schedule of passing bipartisan legislation that authorizes water resources studies and projects, and also sets our national policies for the Civil Works Program of the U.S. [Army] Corps of Engineers.
“I look forward to continuing this track record next year.
“This hearing will provide us with on-the-ground perspectives from a diverse group of stakeholders who understand how this legislation advances water resources projects across the country.
“At prior hearings this year, my colleagues have heard me describe the successes of our most recent water resources legislation of WRDA 2022.
“So, I won’t belabor that point, but instead, simply remind my colleagues that WRDA 2022 authorized a significant number of new projects and studies, made important modifications to existing projects, and included several important policy changes that will help the Corps better succeed in its civil works programs.
“The legislation also included a number of provisions that are important to my home state of West Virginia. These provisions will facilitate critical flood risk management projects and environment infrastructure projects across the state.
“The staff at the Corps and in the Assistant Secretary’s office are hard at work implementing the provisions of prior WRDA legislation, and I want to thank them for their tireless efforts.
“Last week, Chairman Carper and I sent a letter to our Senate colleagues soliciting requests for WRDA 2024.
“I look forward to reviewing the proposals for the Committee’s consideration in the coming months. We always want to listen to our senate colleague and how they’re feeling about this.
“We do not anticipate that WRDA 2024 will be a policy-heavy bill.
“Instead, the bill will focus on authorizing new or modifying existing studies and projects, as well as making needed technical changes to prior provisions in order to reflect the intent of Congress.
“This limited scope will enable the Corps to fully implement the provisions of prior WRDA legislation, and help ensure that the Agency can be responsive to the water resources needs of all communities.
“As I have said previously, it is important that any WRDA bill supports the timely and efficient delivery of water resources projects, while continuing to meet our national priorities.
“Flexibility is key to ensuring that the Corps can identify and carry out solutions that are tailored to address the needs of each community.
“Our nation’s water resources challenges are diverse and communities know more about their unique needs than the policymakers here in Washington, D.C.
“We must also continue to preserve the role of non-federal sponsors in the project delivery process and maintain the Corps’ focus on its three primary missions: navigation, flood and coastal storm risk management, and aquatic ecosystem restoration.
“Last month, the Committee held a hearing on one of these missions: aquatic ecosystem restoration.
“At the hearing, we heard from non-federal sponsors about three ongoing or completed aquatic ecosystem restoration projects.
“Our witnesses’ project-specific stories helped us understand how we can balance our water resources needs, and maximize the use of taxpayer dollars.
“I look forward to continuing that dialogue.
“Today we will discuss four projects in the two other primary mission areas: navigation, and flood and coastal storm risk management.
“The projects highlighted at our hearings last month and today collectively showcase the Corps’ really wide-ranging portfolio of projects and their overall value to our nation.
“In my opinion, these projects demonstrate the differing needs across the country, and why maintaining a balance across all of the Corps’ main missions is so important.
“While aquatic ecosystem restoration projects produce many benefits, the importance of flood and [coastal storm] risk management projects and navigation projects cannot be understated, especially in my region of the country, we’re right along the Ohio river.
“The protection of life and property while bolstering our economy must continue to be prioritized as the Corps develops and executes projects.
“We will also hear today about the successes that are possible when the Corps and non-federal sponsors work collaboratively to find innovative solutions.
“Insight from completed and ongoing projects is important to informing what, if any, modifications are needed to the Corps’ existing authorities in future WRDA legislation.
“I am hopeful that we can take the lessons learned from the projects discussed today, and use them to advance water resources projects of all types, across the country.
“As I said previously, the work of the Corps is more critical than ever.
“The testimony we will hear today will help this committee as it continues its integral role in improving our nation’s infrastructure.
“Mr. Chairman, I do look forward to continuing our partnership on this important legislation.
“I yield back my time.”
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