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Letter to Barbara Boxer

U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) today emphasized the need to include reforms to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Sens. Vitter and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) along with all Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee wrote to Chairman Barbara Boxer expressing their desire to work in a bipartisan manner, which would include making reforms to the Corps of Engineers. Boxer is holding a WRDA hearing tomorrow.

"The Water Resources and Development Act is long-awaited and much needed, and steps to move forward are appreciated," Vitter said. "However, a successful bill needs to include bipartisan concerns. In particular, the Army Corps of Engineers needs to be held accountable for the construction and operation of our waterways, dams, locks, and levees that protect people from disasters like Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy."

A copy of the letter is below.

November 14, 2012

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
Environment and Public Works Committee
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 410
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Boxer:

We appreciate your long-standing dedication to addressing the challenges facing our nation's infrastructure. This Committee, under your leadership, has a tradition of developing comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to address these challenges. The most recent example is the surface transportation reauthorization bill, MAP-21, which was signed into law in July.

The release of and legislative hearing on the draft Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) are critical first steps towards developing bipartisan solutions to the nation's water resources challenges. As the Committee moves forward with the development of this legislation, we hope that you will continue to use an open and collaborative process. The Committee must strive to address the water resources policy concerns of its members and the full Senate. In addition, the Committee needs to ensure that the Corps is a responsible steward of the studies, projects, and policies that Congress authorized in previous WRDA bills.

In order to ensure that the next WRDA bill addresses the full scope of the challenges facing our nation's water resources infrastructure, we propose hearings and staff work focused on the following policy issues:

1) Reforms that expedite and improve the Corps' project delivery process. We must streamline the current, lengthy process while ensuring that Corps projects continue to be sound federal investments.

2) Solutions that address the policy and funding challenges facing the Inland Waterway Trust Fund and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. We must ensure that our nation's ports and waterways can meet current and future transportation needs.
3) Oversight of the Corps' implementation guidance and internal policies. We must ensure that Congressional intent is followed and safeguard against any negative impacts to authorized projects and studies.

4) Prioritization of water resource projects. In a time of constrained federal funding and a moratorium on Congressionally-directed spending, we must establish a process and criteria to ensure that the Corps does not act unilaterally when determining the water resource priorities in our states.

We hope that the Committee will be diligent in its development of this critical legislation, including by addressing the above key priorities. We look forward to working with you and your staff to pass the next WRDA bill.


_________________________ _________________________
James Inhofe David Vitter
United States Senator United States Senator

_________________________ _________________________
John Barrasso Jeff Sessions
United States Senator United States Senator

_________________________ _________________________
Mike Crapo Lamar Alexander
United States Senator United States Senator

_________________________ _________________________
Mike Johanns John Boozman
United States Senator United States Senator

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