Bill authorizing Army Corps water projects hits roadblock

Senators left for the recess without acting on a conference report to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act, though supporters expect to act soon after Congress reconvenes in September.

Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., objected late Friday when Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked for unanimous consent to bring the conference report to the floor. The chamber had shortly before passed legislation on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when Reid attempted to bring up the water resources bill.

The Senate is expected to approve the measure by more than the two-thirds support needed to override a threatened veto. The House last week approved it 381-40. Feingold opposes the conference report because he does not believe it goes far enough in changing how Army Corps of Engineers projects are reviewed and approved.

On Wednesday, Feingold praised the Bush administration's veto threat and said the conference report "significantly weakened" Army Corps reform and raised the price tag of the bill to $21 billion.

"This conference report has been stripped of important independent review safeguards that would ensure accountability and prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from manipulating the way projects are planned," Feingold said in a statement.

Feingold supported a Senate-passed bill that authorized nearly $14 billion in Army Corps water infrastructure projects and included language requiring independent reviews of projects that cost at least $40 million; projects requested by an affected governor or head of a federal agency or projects deemed controversial.

The conference report requires independent reviews when the cost of a project exceeds $45 million; when an affected governor requests one; or if the Army Corps chief determines the project is controversial.

Supporters of the conference report last week attempted to "hotline" the bill, but senators from both parties objected. Some senators have opposed the cost of water resources bills in recent years and have tried to block expedited approval. Environment and Public Works ranking member James Inhofe, R-Okla., has said that while he is a fiscal conservative, he strongly supports the conference report.

"There are two things we ought to be spending money on in this country. One is national defense and the other is infrastructure," Inhofe said Friday.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.