The Honorable Donna F. Edwards
Floor Statement on H.R. 5303 – Water Resources Development Act of 2016 
September 27, 2016
Mr. Chairman, I come to the floor today because it does seem that this amendment and the others that are being offered underscore a problem that I didn’t think we were going to have with the reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act. 
We have spent quite a bit of time in our Transportation and Infrastructure Committee under the leadership of the chairman trying to come to some common understanding and bipartisan agreement about this. Unfortunately, that is not where we are today. 
In my view, water transportation and infrastructure has always been a bipartisan priority in the country. I agree with the comments of some of my colleagues that moving forward with a bipartisan bill is vital to the public health, the safety, and the economic welfare of our communities and this Nation.
I have the distinct honor of being able to represent Maryland in Congress. I know how important this bill is to our State since we have such a long coastline, the Chesapeake Bay; and several of its tributaries, including the Anacostia, the Severn River, and the Potomac, all flow through the Fourth Congressional District, all requiring support under the Water Resources Development Act. These resources provide billions of dollars of economic activity for our State. Maintaining and modernizing Maryland’s waterways and its ports, including the Port of Baltimore, is essential.
Unfortunately, we reported a bill out of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in May that focused on such authorization and on Corps compliance with the new project selection process that was created in the 2014 law. Under that law, as well, we would have been able to allow the Corps, beginning in 2027, to use the funds collected in the harbor maintenance trust fund for eligible harbor dredging and other activities, removing those expenditures from the annual appropriations process. 
Very sadly—and as we heard today here on the floor—by dropping the trust fund language, Republicans have effectively undermined the measure by removing a key provision that originally created bipartisan support for the bill. This is really a sad moment, indeed, because now, yet again, money that should be used for our harbors and our ports is being used in a trust fund as a piggy bank for completely unrelated spending. These kinds of spending restrictions have created a large surplus in the trust fund, even as critical harbor dredging needs go unmet. 
I rise today in opposition to the bill, unfortunately. It is a bill I thought I would actually be able to come to the floor and support with the chairman’s leadership. 

Unfortunately, we are also not able to include in our House bill aid for the Flint water crisis: $100 million to repair and replace the city’s drinking water infrastructure, $20 million in loan forgiveness for prior Flint city loans taken out to build its water infrastructure, and $50 million for various public health activities. That is what the Senate did. It is what we could have done, and it is unfortunate that we could not do this here today. 
I hope that before we leave out of this Congress in the lameduck session, which we anticipate later after the election that we are going to be able to find a resolution to these problems that indeed cross the aisle.
Again, as I said, I am not in opposition to the gentlewoman’s amendment, but I think that it is really important for us to understand and underscore that where we should be here is with the bipartisan bill that we agreed to in May in our committee. It is really unfortunate that we find ourselves once again lining up in partisan lines and not able to support a harbor maintenance trust fund for the use of the money for which it was intended, and that is to maintain and upgrade our Nation’s ports and harbors. 
I reserve the balance of my time.