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Public Statements

Water Resources Development Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I rise today to again urge the entire Senate, and particularly the majority leader, to get the WRDA bill, the Water Resources Development Act, onto the floor of the Senate absolutely as soon as possible for passage.

Of course, I represent the State of Louisiana. A little while ago, on August 29, we commemorated--certainly did not celebrate but properly commemorated--the 2-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. A little while from now, on September 24, we will similarly commemorate the 2-year anniversary of Hurricane Rita, which devastated southwest Louisiana, South Acadiana, as well as southeast Texas.

Of course, the Nation and this Congress, this Senate, has done an enormous amount with regard to hurricane recovery. But we all know that challenge and that work continues. There is nothing more important with regard to that work, with regard to ensuring good, strong hurricane flood protection in the future--unlike we have had in the past, clearly, in light of Hurricane Katrina--than passing this water resources bill.

As you know, it has gone through every stage of the process except passage on the floor of the Senate. We had a Senate bill. We had a House bill. We had a conference committee. We had deliberations of the conference committee. I was honored to serve on that conference committee and helped finalize the final conference committee report.

Even before the August recess, the House of Representatives passed that conference committee report. So now all eyes are on the floor of the Senate. That is where we must finish the job. That is why I urge Senator Reid and others to put the WRDA bill on the floor of the Senate as soon as possible.

Recently, on September 6, I sent Senator Reid a letter, following up on numerous discussions we have had with other Members, urging him to put the bill on the floor as soon as possible, certainly during September. Again, I come to the floor of the Senate to urge the Senate leadership to do that in light of the crucial nature of this bill for continued recovery, hurricane flood protection in Louisiana.

I am particularly disappointed this week that is not happening while we go to other business, including the DC voting rights bill. Now, there are folks very interested and focused and committed to that DC voting rights bill. That is their right. I have no particular quarrel with that. I am going to vote against it because I sincerely believe it is clearly contrary to the U.S. Constitution. But that is a legitimate disagreement, and we can debate about that and have that legitimate disagreement. I do not quarrel with their focus and their passion. I do, quite frankly, quarrel with putting that on the floor of the Senate before the WRDA bill, when that WRDA bill and significant provisions in it are life and death to south Louisiana, to our recovery in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Those events, 2 years ago last month and this month, make passage of the WRDA bill a true emergency priority for this body. The same cannot be said of the DC voting rights bill or other things that are being considered for Senate floor action. Again, those other measures--the DC voting rights bill, in particular--have their proponents, and that is their right. I do not quarrel with their passion for that. But that is not the sort of real emergency as we face in Louisiana with regard to the protection we need.

We are in the midst of a hurricane season. We are at the peak of a hurricane season. Yet we continue to be years and years overdue for this WRDA bill and all the very significant provisions it contains for our people, for our State, for our vanishing coastline.

So, in closing, I again urge the majority leader to put the WRDA bill on the floor of the Senate as soon as possible, and absolutely this month, and to establish the right priorities for this body and for this country, including that very important effort which I believe should be on the floor of the Senate, should gain action, should gain focus before other measures, including the DC voting rights bill.

With that, I yield the floor. I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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