It's on us. Share your news here.

House to Act Soon on Bill to Authorize Charleston Harbor Dredging

Posted on September 27, 2016

By Emma Dumain, The Post and Courier

Republican leaders announced last Thursday the U.S. House will vote this week on a crucial water infrastructure bill that would, among other things, further the ongoing work to deepen Charleston Harbor.

Plans to prioritize this vote is a victory for South Carolina legislators, from members of Congress to Gov. Nikki Haley, who have urged GOP leaders not to leave any uncertainty as to whether Congress will send the so-called Water Resources Development Act, to the president by the year’s end.

Still, the House’s passage of the bill would not close the book on the matter. The House and Senate have different versions and must negotiate a final bill in November and December, when Congress returns from its pre-election recess.

A major sticking point is whether to provide funding for the ongoing contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich. The Senate bill, which passed its chamber last week, contains that funding; House Republicans have resisted including that money in their bill.

There also are serious concerns about whether extraneous provisions, such as the Flint money, could jeopardize passage of a bill that would not otherwise be very controversial. WRDA has so far united every member of the South Carolina congressional delegation.

For South Carolinians both in government and the local business community, the idea that $509 million for the harbor dredging project could be a casualty of unrelated policy arguments — threatening advancement of a major economic driver in the state — is especially troubling.

At her weekly press conference Thursday morning, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California made it clear members of her party would oppose the House’s current WRDA bill next week. She said Democrats wanted assurances that Flint money would be provided, plus she and her colleagues were angry that Republicans had gone back on their promise to maintain the Harbor Trust Fund in the bill. The fund would assist with area water projects around South Carolina and elsewhere in the country but would not affect Charleston’s harbor deepening.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he believed the debate over funding for the Flint water crisis should take place in the context of WRDA, but he didn’t suggest that discussion would occur in time for the vote.

Source: The Post and Courier

It's on us. Share your news here.
Submit Your News Today

Join Our
Click to Subscribe