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Water Resources Development Act of 2007--Veto Message from the President of the United States

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. BAKER. I thank the gentleman for his courtesy in yielding time. And I

[Page: H12794]

certainly want to express appreciation to my chairman of the subcommittee for her good work and her bipartisan work in this and many other subjects, as well as extending our best wishes to Chairman Oberstar and his speedy recovery.

I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this matter as a Member from Louisiana. In fact, it reminds me of a circumstance where a fellow went to the lumberyard to buy some 2 by 4s, and when the vendor at the lumberyard asked, How long do you need them? The fellow said, Well, I'm going to need them for a long time, I'm building a house. That's the way we feel about the WRDA bill, we've been wanting this for a very, very long time.

There are many Members whose handiwork is evident in this bill preceding me, many members of our delegation, but I certainly want to acknowledge the work of Mr. Boustany from southwest Louisiana who has been so adversely impacted by the storm many have forgotten called Rita. He has worked mightily to make sure his constituents' needs are met.

I wish to put a different face on the adoption of this bill than perhaps others have characterized. There will be many in the aftermath to say, Well, if you throw pork in front of a Congressman, you know what's going to happen. And that's unfortunate.

In the case of Louisiana, this is not a matter of political convenience. Many people who will benefit from the $7 billion or so that is in this bill would never be able to vote for me anyway.

The bill provides for construction of 16 different hurricane and coastal reclamation projects which have literally been vetted for over decades.

[Time: 17:30]

So these have been subject to public discussion, local governments, State government, Corps of Engineers examination, and we have been ready to go for many, many years. This is not about a matter of political convenience or economic development. This is really about preservation of a culture in our country that is so vital in our oil and gas and natural resources development. From the Rockies to the Appalachians, every drop of water runs through the Mississippi system and runs right through the Bayou of Louisiana out into the open waters of the gulf. In order to protect people from the ravages of the river's annual flooding, the Corps constructed enormous levees which throw all that sediment now out into the deep waters of the gulf. The result of man's own engineering is that we are now subject to the ravages of coastal destruction, particularly in the heights of the hurricane season. One storm does more damage in a few hours than a decade long of natural forces. We are at our rope's end. Some estimate we have less than 10 years to act.

The bill before us, although merely an authorization, will make available to us a wide scope of projects which will take decades to complete. But I, for one, and I am sure other members of the Louisiana delegation will state to this Congress, we are deeply indebted to this Congress for taking this action. And as to the disagreement with the President, I have had many disagreements with my President. I have had disagreements with other Presidents. That is nothing new for us. This is just a difference of opinion. I am sure we will all have differences of opinion as we move forward through the legislative process. I am glad that in this instance we have found a way to act from committee to floor to the United States Senate in a bipartisan manner and produce a product that is beneficial to the entire country.

I hope you will join with me in overriding this veto and sending this important measure on to the Corps of Engineers and to the States for implementation as soon as is practical.


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