U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today applauded final Senate approval of a bicameral legislative package that includes the RESTORE Act, which will direct potentially billions of dollars to Alabama Gulf Coast communities affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Shelby co-authored the RESTORE Act with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Absent the RESTORE Act, Clean Water Act fines resulting from the oil spill would have been directed to the U.S. Treasury, not to the local communities impacted. The legislation now awaits the president's signature to become law.
Shelby issued the following statement on final passage of the RESTORE Act:
"Once considered a legislative long shot, today's victory for Alabama Gulf Coast communities, businesses and families was more than two years in the making. While national attention to the oil spill may have abated, my commitment to helping restore Alabama's Gulf Coast has not. Central to this legislation is that impacted communities will not only receive this money directly, but also control how it is spent through local, accountable officials and a transparent process. I believe that those on the front lines of the oil spill know best how to allocate this money to meet their needs. It is my hope that strong civic participation will lead to a robust process that will revive the Alabama Gulf Coast for decades to come.
"I thank my co-author, Senator Mary Landrieu, as well as the rest of my Gulf Coast colleagues, including Senator Jeff Sessions, who strongly advocated for passage of the RESTORE Act."
The legislative package that the Senate approved today is the result of a House-Senate conference committee tasked with reconciling differences between related bills passed separately by each chamber. In addition to the RESTORE Act, the package also includes reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), reauthorization of funding for highway and transit programs, and provisions preventing an increase in student loan interest rates. The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs has full jurisdiction over the NFIP and shared jurisdiction over the transportation bill. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-Health and Human Services-Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) has jurisdiction over funding for federal education programs. As co-author of the RESTORE Act and Ranking Member of the Banking Committee as well as the Labor-HHS-Ed Subcommittee, Shelby was the only member of the Alabama congressional delegation appointed to the conference committee.
In this capacity, Shelby secured conference committee adoption of the RESTORE Act, which originally passed the Senate by a vote of 76-22 on March 8, 2012. A somewhat-related House-passed bill contained no guarantee that fines collected in direct relation to the oil spill would ever reach the Gulf Coast states. In fact, unlike the RESTORE Act, the House legislation would not have guaranteed relief to the Gulf Coast, but instead would have relied on future Congresses to do so. The conference committee overwhelmingly agreed to include the Senate's legislation, authored by Shelby and Landrieu.