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Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendment to H.R. Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act of Providing for Consideration of H.R. Water Resources Development Act of and Providing for Consideration of H.R. Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, I support the underlying water resources development legislation.

In communities across the country, our infrastructure is falling apart, as colleagues on both sides of the aisle have pointed out. This is evident in the state of our Nation's dams. In communities like Waterbury, Vermont, dams are rapidly aging and the risk of breach continues to grow.

In 2016, Congress took a very positive step to address this issue with the passage of the WIIN Act. Section 1177 of the WIIN Act authorized funding for the Army Corps to rehabilitate some of the Nation's oldest Corps-constructed dams that are classified as high hazard potential. As you know, the failure of a dam that is so classified is anticipated to cause the loss of life.

While section 1177 was a positive start, its limited authorization and per project cap have hindered its effectiveness. To that end, I want to thank Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio for their willingness to work with me to address this matter.

Section 105 of the legislation before us addresses these shortcomings by increasing the provisions in authorization and giving dams greater authority to accrue Federal funds over multiple years.

The benefits of these changes to communities like Waterbury, Vermont are very clear. In 2011, Mr. Speaker, Waterbury suffered a devastating flood during Hurricane Irene. Despite the damage that the village suffered--totally flooded--the flooding in Waterbury would have been far more catastrophic if it weren't for the Corps-built Waterbury Dam, a 1930s-era construction in need of significant repair. Section 105 will give the Corps the tools it needs to get work done rehabbing high- hazard dams like Waterbury across the country.

Both parties agree we need to improve our infrastructure. This bill will take important steps to do that and address some of our most outdated, hazardous dams in this country. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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