House Transportation Infrastructure Committee Republicans today voted down legislation that would have provided desperately needed state funding for clean water infrastructure and created hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs. During a Committee markup, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Ranking Democratic Member Tim Bishop offered an amendment to H.R. 4278 to ensure that States had sufficient and stable funding to modernize their wastewater infrastructure. The amendment was defeated on a party-line vote.
"Just like surface transportation programs, the need for investment in wastewater infrastructure is great, and reauthorizing and reforming programs to rebuild our crumbling water infrastructure systems will create jobs," said Bishop. "For every $1 billion we spend on wastewater infrastructure we can create as many as 33,000 jobs in communities across America while improving public health and the environment. Not only have House Republicans failed to put forth their own proposal to address the nation's water infrastructure needs, today they defeated a bipartisan, comprehensive solution for critical investment that enjoys the support of over 100 clean water organizations."
In 2011, States received only $690 million for Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRF) infrastructure investments, just five percent of the annual amount necessary to address the needs identified by States to modernize and repair the nation's aging water infrastructure systems. Rep. Bishop's amendment included the text of H.R. 3145, the "Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act", bipartisan legislation that establishes two complimentary, new initiatives for the long-term, sustainable financing of wastewater infrastructure and invests $13.8 billion in the SRF over the next five years.
In approving H.R. 4278, Committee Republicans also defeated an amendment offered by Representative Donna Edwards that would have preserved existing Clean Water Act protections for hunting and fishing grounds.
Countless waters and wetlands throughout the United States provide vital habitat for fish and wildlife that provide recreational opportunities for American families, and support billion-dollar industries related to hunting, fishing (including commercial fishing), and outdoor recreation. Similarly, many of these waters and wetlands are critical to maintaining a clean, safe, and reliable source of water for agricultural irrigation and other commercial purposes.
Widespread destruction of these waters and wetlands, as would occur under H.R. 4278, would decimate these industries and activities, resulting in the potential loss of thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars in economic activity, as well as damaging the long-term reliability of irrigation water for family farmers.
A table detailing the funding that the Bishop Amendment would have made available to States and the jobs created through these investments is attached.