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Mr. SOUTHERLAND. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Florida for yielding to me today.
Today I rise in support of this rule for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, and I agree with my colleague on the other side of the aisle, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Hahn). She understands how important this bill is, as do I.
Make no mistake, this is a jobs bill. We are going to be able to take advantage of economic opportunities because of this piece of legislation. I am proud to serve as a member of the Transportation Committee. That this bill passed unanimously out of committee is something that I think needs to be noted.
This legislation enhances the Army Corps of Engineers' ability to develop and support America's port and waterway infrastructure, and it does so with full spending offsets and zero earmarks. That is the kind of commonsense reform I believe the American people expect and deserve.
This bill places hard caps on the time and cost of studies, eliminates duplications and delays, places a 3-year cap on those studies and caps in dollar amounts of $3 million. It expands the role of public-private partnerships in water infrastructure and makes significant changes to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund so that monies that are collected for harbor maintenance are more fully utilized for their design purpose. I know it is a novel idea that those monies collected for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund would be there, and this bill addresses that.
Perhaps most importantly to the people of my district, this bill begins a critically important conversation that began at the committee level on the impact of the decreased water flows down the ACF River system and into the Apalachicola Bay. The Apalachicola Bay is a natural treasure, producing 90 percent of Florida's oyster harvest and 10 percent of the Nation's oyster harvest. The oystermen, small businesses, and hardworking families who depend on this bay have seen their livelihoods put at risk.
I am pleased that Chairman Shuster and the ranking member have worked in good faith to begin this dialogue with me. For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to support this rule, as well as the underlying bill, which provides critical support to Florida's 15 deepwater ports and allows us to be fully prepared for the economic opportunities as a result of the Panama Canal expansion.
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