Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Assistant Republican Whip and Mississippi's 4th Congressional Representative, announced today that the House of Representatives voted to approve the RESTORE Act as part of a Transportation package conference between the House and the Senate. The measure passed in the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, 373-52.
"Less than a year ago, a small group of Gulf Coast legislators came together with big support from their communities and a mission to make the Gulf Coast whole," Palazzo stated. "I am proud to have been a part of this landmark legislation, and I want to thank all those partners -- from my congressional colleagues to local leaders, business interests to conservation groups -- for their work in this effort."
Palazzo was one of 24 original cosponsors to introduce the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economy of the Gulf Coast Act in October 2011. The bill sets up the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund for the five Gulf Coast states (Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Florida), and sets aside 80% percent of the Clean Water Act fines for that fund. Those fines could total anywhere from $5 billion to $21 billion, which could mean hundreds of millions for South Mississippi's economic and environmental restoration and recovery.
In recent months, Palazzo met repeatedly with community leaders to hammer out details and ensure the bill provides for greater local input and control in the recovery decision-making process.
In past months, public support has grown for the bipartisan effort. Advocates included groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation and the Environmental Defense Fund.
In a floor speech on Friday, Palazzo recounted the RESTORE Act effort and thanked colleagues for their support of the bill.
"Many said this could not be done in an election year, with so much competing for time on the legislative calendar," Palazzo noted. "But we did not give up because we knew that restoring and replenishing the Gulf Coast is more than just a responsible decision; it is the right thing to do."