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Providing For Consideration Of H.R. 720, Water Quality Financing Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 720, WATER QUALITY FINANCING ACT OF 2007 -- (Extensions of Remarks - March 15, 2007)

* Mr. HULSHOF. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 720, the Water Quality Financing Act of 2007. I am pleased to support this important and needed reauthorization of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

* Economic growth can only occur if the infrastructure, the roads, the power grids, and the water/wastewater systems can accommodate this growth. A community cannot prosper without suitable infrastructure.

* Too often, this vital infrastructure is not keeping up with the existing needs or future development. A recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, found that, ``without continued improvements in wastewater treatment infrastructure, future population growth will erode away many of the Clean Water Act achievements.'' Further EPA studies have found there to be a gap of $181 billion between the revenue that is available and the wastewater infrastructure that is needed. It is expected that this gap will widen to more than $500 billion by 2019.

* These shortfalls unfortunately hit small communities the hardest. Water systems that serve these communities face a continued battle to keep their infrastructure in working order, all the while construction and maintenance costs continue to rise. Moreover, small systems simply do not have the ability to pass these costs on to their consumers.

* The Clean Water State Revolving Fund has helped address this need. This program allows communities to seek Federal and State dollars from the fund. From FY 2002 through FY 2006 the Missouri SRF provided $745,776,200 in loans to water systems. These dollars went to create new collection sewers, replace existing or outdated sewers, and build treatment and secondary treatment plants. Without these updates, the environment around Missouri communities would have suffered. So for these reasons I rise in support of this legislation.

* But I have concerns about extending Davis-Bacon Act requirements to all dollars within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. While it is true the prevailing wage requirements of Davis-Bacon were attached to Federal dollars in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program from 1972 through 1995, these requirements have never been attached to the State dollars in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

* The unprecedented move of placing prevailing wage requirements on all State Revolving Fund dollars is bad national policy. Placing Davis-Bacon on all dollars within the State Revolving Fund is a gross overreach of Congressional power. Though Missouri does apply prevailing wage requirements, 18 States have said through referendum or resolution that they don't want to have a prevailing wage law. This is a decision that should remain at the State level, not be subverted by the Federal government. Unfortunately, H.R. 720 says to the residents and lawmakers of these States, ``you were wrong and we're not going to listen to you.'' This is wrong. Congress should not be in the business of preempting State law in this area. For this reason, I voted for the Baker Amendment which sought to remove the Davis-Bacon provision from the bill. I was disappointed that this amendment was not adopted.

* Because of the pressing need to improve our Nation's wastewater infrastructure, I will support this legislation but I do so with serious reservations about the Davis-Bacon requirements in the underlying bill. I am voting to move this important bill on to the Senate, but it is imperative that this unjustified and inappropriate provision be removed as this measure moves tough the legislative process.

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