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Public Statements

Water Resources Development Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. VITTER. Madam President, I stand to echo all of those thoughts.

Let me start with a lot of overdue thanks. First of all, let me thank a great partner in Chairman Boxer. As she said many times, we do not agree about a lot, including important issues within the jurisdiction of our committee, but we can come together constructively, really productively, on the infrastructure side of our committee--both highway infrastructure and water infrastructure. And that is what we wanted to do from the very beginning on this bill.

The crucial element to any success is the will and the determination to do it. We both had that, but I really thank her for her leadership in that regard and being a great partner.

I certainly echo all of her thoughts about the staff work. I am deeply indebted to all of the staff work, particularly on my side, that went into this bill. The chair and I personally dealt with probably a couple dozen issues and semicrises that would crop up over time.

But if we did that with a couple of dozen, our staffs did that with hundreds and solved those problems to the satisfaction of a huge number of Members. That was reflected in the vote. I thank both staffs, but I am particularly indebted to my staff for all of that hard work, particularly Zak Baig, Charles Brittingham, Chris Tomassi, Sarah Veatch, Rebecca Louviere, Jill Landry, Luke Bolar, and Cheyenne Steel. They all put in enormous hours--of course, Charles much more than anyone else, but they all put in enormous hours. I thank them for their excellent work.

I also want to emphasize what a positive bill this is. I talked a few minutes ago, right before the vote, about the strengths of the bill from a national point of view: jobs, waterborne commerce, reform of the Corps of Engineers. This bill is also very important for my home State of Louisiana. I just want to underscore that in closing.

In three areas it is particularly important. First of all, we have a lot of important flood control, hurricane protection projects. This bill moves a number of those projects forward in a crucial way; projects such as the Louisiana Coastal Area Ecosystem Project, Morganza to the Gulf, which is vitally important to the protection of Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes and surrounding areas, also the West Shore Hurricane Protection Project. That is right in the middle of where Hurricane Isaac hit. We need to get that done. It is now moving forward, the Southwest Louisiana Coastal Hurricane Protection Study.

Finally, although it is not as far along, there is very important work with regard to Saint Tammany and other coastal parishes achieving flood protection, including a barrier at the lake or near Lake Pontchartrain for Saint Tammany. That concept will move forward because of this bill.

The second big category in the bill is Corps of Engineers reform and accountability. Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina saw some of the best and, unfortunately, some of the worst of what the Federal Government has to offer. On the side that needs improvement, we need streamlining and reform at certain agencies, including the Corps of Engineers.

This bill brings that reform to the Corps of Engineers in a number of important areas, such as the proposal Senator Nelson of Florida and I have. It also streamlines and expedites the process, particularly with regard to environmental review. That is very important.

Third, and finally, this bill advances waterborne commerce by dredging our harbors and ports and rivers, and getting that work done, which is vital, which is necessary, if marathon commerce is going to move forward and help drive the engine of our economy. We have major reforms in this bill with regard to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, major reforms in the bill with regard to the Inland Waterway Trust Fund, dredging what we need to dredge, moving forward on key harbors and ports and waterways. That is important for our Louisiana maritime sector, which is a big part of the national economy.

So there are a lot of positives to this bill. That is why I was proud to help develop it and support it. That is why I am very pleased today that it got overwhelming bipartisan support.

I yield the floor.


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