WRDA; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 138
(Senate - September 13, 2016)

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[Pages S5660-S5663]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, this is a very significant piece of 
legislation. What we just now moved forward on is the managers' 
amendment. Senator Boxer and I are the managers. I want to, first of 
all, compliment her for working very hard with us and our staff. I 
mean, they really did drill on this thing. So it is a major bill. We 
are supposed to have a WRDA bill, or the Water Resources Development 
Act, every 2 years. We went through a 7-year period from 2007 to 2014. 
Now we are back on schedule. I am happy to say that we are on schedule 
now to get this passed tomorrow.
  We are going to stay on a 2-year schedule. Senator Boxer did a great 
job. It was great teamwork. We have moved a long way.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I want to say this to Senator Inhofe. I 
know he has a hectic schedule ahead of him. What a pleasure it is to 
work with him and his staff member Alex and our Jason and Ted and 
others. We had a lot of disagreements on a lot of issues, but we set 
those aside. It is exciting to get something done for the people.
  For example, in this managers' package, we have a new Chief's report 
in Pennsylvania, a critical restoration program in Oregon and 
Washington, funding for restoration of the Great Lakes, a wide variety 
of other policy recommendations that come from all over the country, 
from all of our colleagues. So I not only want to thank Senator Inhofe, 
who is my chairman, but also my staff and Senator Inhofe's staff--in 
particular, Bettina Poirier, Jason Albritton, and Ted Illston, from my 
  This has not been easy to get all of us together and to have a 
unanimous consent request agreed to. I also want to thank the floor 
staff--Trish and Gary on our side--because I made them a little crazy 
during this process. They actually allowed me to do that.
  But it does take a lot of push and pull to get a bill like this done. 
So what I would like to do for the next few minutes--I know Senator 
Murkowski will speak following me--is that I just want to talk about 
why we have worked so hard and why it is critical that we pass this 
bill this week--S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act, which we 
called WRDA 2016.
  We need to repair our Nation's aging infrastructure. We need to grow 
our economy and create jobs. I think that is where the sweet spot is 
across the aisle. We have an infrastructure crisis in our country. It 
is not me saying it; it is the American Society of Civil Engineers. 
They are Democrats, they are Republicans, and they are Independents. 
They are north, south, east, and west. They came together and said: Our 
infrastructure is a D-plus--a D-plus.
  So we just have to move forward. Also, we need to make sure that the 
Army Corps, when they write a Chief's report, has the go-ahead from 
Congress. We don't have anymore the ability as Members to say this is 
an earmark. We don't do that. What we must do is look at the Corps 
report and give them the authority to move ahead if we feel that the 
Corps report is in the best interest of our people.
  We have over $14 billion for 30 Chief's reports in 19 States. These 
projects--you ask: What do they do? They increase navigation. They are 
flood risk management. They are coastal storm damage reduction. They 
are ecosystem restoration. As far as navigation is concerned, we know 
that we authorize important projects to maintain vital navigation 
routes for commerce and the movement of goods.
  Our bill builds on the reforms to the harbor maintenance trust fund. 
So we are just going to show a few charts. This is the Port of 
Charleston. If you look at these containers, they look small on this 
boat. Each one of those is just enormous. What we know is, if we can't 
move goods to and from the country, our economy stalls.
  So that is critical. We extend permanently prioritization for donor 
and energy transfer ports, emerging harbors, and Great Lakes ports. We 
allow additional ports to qualify for these funds, and we make clear 
that the Corps can maintain harbors of refuge. The bill also authorizes 
nine Chief's reports that I mentioned in nine States that will allow 
investment in central port and waterway projects, including the 
deepening of the Charleston Harbor in South Carolina.
  It does no good to have these ships try to get in--if you need to 
dredge the waterway, you better have authorization to do it. We widen 
and deepen the navigation channels at Port Everglades in Florida, to 
address safety issues and congestion. We construct new locks in 
Pennsylvania at three of the oldest locks and dams on the Ohio River 
  These aging locks were built in the 1920s and the 1930s. We have to 
address the aging infrastructure. This is what you see the workers 
doing. Our ports and waterways, which are essential to the U.S. 
economy, moved 2.3 billion tons of goods in 2014.
  WRDA 2016 will provide major economic benefits that will keep us 
competitive in the global marketplace. We also deal with storms and 
floods. Now, we have seen these storms and floods just expand 
exponentially. We are stunned when we see our beautiful citizens 
looking at everything they possess being lost in a flood. It is 
billions of dollars of damage. It is loss of life. We have seen 
communities wiped out. This is the scene from Louisiana.
  This bill will save lives by helping to rebuild critical levee 
systems around the country, including levees to protect the capital of 
my State and surrounding communities. Sacramento is in desperate need 
of flood control. We have done it year after year. We are very hopeful 
that the work we put into it will make sure that we do not see a 
Katrina happening anywhere in my State or in any other place.
  This bill authorizes $8 billion for 17 flood control and storm damage 
projects in 13 States, including a project to build levees and flood 
control structures to reduce flood risk in San Antonio, TX.
  I think we have the picture of the flooding there. Look at this. We 

[[Page S5661]]

have to rebuild our infrastructure to protect against floods.
  We also have a project to rebuild aging levees in Manhattan, in 
Kansas, which protects public and private structures valued at $1 
billion, and projects to protect coastal communities in South Carolina, 
in Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Louisiana.
  WRDA also establishes a new program at FEMA to fund the repair of 
high-hazard dams that present a public safety threat. These hazardous 
dams are threatening numerous communities across the Nation, and WRDA 
2016 will make those communities safer.
  The bill authorizes more than $3 billion for projects to restore 
critical ecosystems, like the Florida Everglades. WRDA 2016 updates 
existing programs. It creates new initiatives to advance the 
restoration of some of the Nation's most iconic ecosystems, such as the 
Great Lakes, the Long Island Sound, the Delaware River, the Chesapeake 
Bay, the Columbia River, and Puget Sound.
  WRDA responds to the serious challenges many of our communities are 
facing. While we have horrific flooding, we also have horrific 
droughts, especially in the West. This was all predicted by scientists 
who said: Watch out; climate change is coming. We have seen terrible 
fires, terrible flooding, terrible droughts, and more extreme weather 
all over. That was predicted.
  So we want to make sure that we can improve the operations of our 
dams and reservoirs to increase water supply and better conserve 
existing water resources.
  I have a very special excitement associated with the dealing of 
droughts, because the bill is on my legislation, the Water in the 21st 
Century Act--or, as I call it, W21--to provide essential support for 
the development of innovative water technologies, such as desalination 
and water recycling.
  I had the opportunity to visit a desal plant in California--the only 
one operating. It is pretty remarkable. It is not cheap. It is a 
public-private partnership. But when you need water, you need water. 
So, absolutely we have to look at ways to utilize energy in a smart way 
and move toward desal and move toward water recycling and water 
  The bill allows States to provide additional incentives for the use 
of these innovative technologies, through the State revolving fund. It 
establishes a new, innovative water technology grant program, and it 
reauthorizes successful existing programs such as the Water 
Desalination Act.
  It also deals with Flint, MI. I am so grateful to everyone on both 
sides who allowed us to finally address Flint, MI. I want to show you 
what they dealt with in this corrosive piping. The State changed the 
way they got their water. They started to draw from highly polluted 
water. This is what it did to the pipes.
  As to the lead contamination in Flint, we know all about it. But it 
is not only in Flint. It is in other cities across the country that are 
dealing with aging lead pipes, such as Jackson, MS, Sebring, OH, and 
Durham, NC. The American people have some rights. They have a right to 
clean water. When they turn on their faucet, they should not be scared 
of what is going to come out.
  Yet the American Water Works Association estimates that as many as 22 
million people live in homes that receive water from lead service 
lines. Now, this bill begins the much needed work to ensure safe, 
reliable drinking water for every American. It provides $100 million in 
State revolving fund loans and grants for communities that have a 
declared drinking water emergency. It provides more than $700 million 
in loans under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, 
which we call WIFIA.
  We have a program in transportation that my friend in the chair, the 
Presiding Officer, is very familiar with, called TIFIA, and he and I 
worked on together to save it. WIFIA works the same way. If a local 
government has revenues, they can use those to pay back the Federal 
Government for practically interest-free loans and complete a project 
far faster.
  So this WIFIA is very exciting for me because I am leaving here. I 
would like to leave behind a way for communities to access help this 
way. It is not a giveaway. It just says to a community: If you are 
willing to help yourself, the Federal Government can front the money. 
You can rebuild your infrastructure much quicker.
  When it comes to crumbling infrastructure, we don't have a minute to 
waste. So the WRDA bill helps those communities dealing with the 
horrible effects of lead poisoning by investing in public health 
programs to help families deal with the impacts. The bill changes the 
law to require that communities are quickly notified if high lead 
levels are found in the drinking water.
  The worst thing is to ignore that and then have some child, all of a 
sudden, have learning disabilities, and you don't know why. You have 
done everything right, and your child is suffering. We want to say: The 
minute there is too much lead in the water, parents, you are going to 
know about it, and you can protect your child. The one way to protect a 
child is to get rid of their exposure to lead, whether it is in the 
air, whether it is in the water, or whether it is in a product. We know 
that for sure.
  Now, in closing, I am going to talk about a few things for my great 
State, because we have 40 million people there. We have so much 
congestion, and we have so many problems. We also have so many assets--
mostly our people--and we have so much beauty in that State, but I am 
going to talk about a few things we did.

  First, we authorized a critical project to revitalize the Los Angeles 
River. Yes, there is a river in Los Angeles. Everyone kind of looks at 
me and says: You have to be kidding. No, there is.
  The whole area has been neglected. Finally, after working with the 
community--and, boy, this took effort on everyone's part--the city, the 
county, Senator Feinstein, me, and Members of Congress. Everybody 
worked together--the Chamber of Commerce, the unions, everybody. We got 
together a great plan for how we are going to revitalize the river, 
make it a beautiful place to go, and stimulate economic development.
  Our bill also authorizes a project to restore wetlands and improve 
flood protection in San Francisco Bay. This is one of the most iconic 
photos I could show you, the Golden Gate Bridge, but we need to improve 
flood protection. We are going to have the rising sea levels. I will 
tell you one of the great ways to get hold of that issue is to restore 
wetlands because then when the floods come, it slows up, it slows up 
the flow, and takes the nutrients that would otherwise go into the bay. 
Whether we are dealing with Lake Tahoe, which I will talk about in a 
minute, or San Francisco Bay, you want to make sure you have your flood 
protection work so these wetlands will hold back the water and hold 
back the nutrients.
  We will rebuild levees that protect Sacramento, which is a critical 
area, and we have an amazing and important program to provide critical 
habitat and improve air quality near the Salton Sea.
  I don't have time to go into explaining what the Salton Sea is, but 
it is one of the largest manmade lakes known. It is drying up because 
of the drought. What happened is, the farmers would take their extra 
water and dump it into the Salton Sea. There are a lot of harmful 
toxins from the pesticides in there. As the sea dries up, the sand 
holds all this toxin. When the wind blows, it carries these toxins and 
these chemicals into the lungs of the people who live around this 
gorgeous area. It was once a thriving area, but it has changed. It also 
is the landing place for about 400 different species of beautiful 
waterfowl that rest on the Pacific Flyway. It has been neglected. We 
need to make sure that where the sea is drying out we can have pockets 
where there are wetlands, where there is restoration. We are working 
together with the State.
  I am excited about the fact that this bill will authorize the use of 
local people, nonprofit people. City councils, supervisors, State and 
Federal Government and water districts will now be able to work 
together on common projects to save the Salton Sea. This is a tough 
one. I am going to be leaving the Senate knowing this isn't fixed, and 
I don't like that; that I will not be here to fix it. I am leaving it 
to everybody--that includes the Presiding Officer, you will be here a 
while. You have

[[Page S5662]]

to keep your eye on the Salton Sea because it is disappearing and we 
have to fix it.
  Finally, this bill invests in the restoration of the ``Jewel of the 
Sierra,'' Lake Tahoe. Oh, this is something. I was just out there with 
Senator Feinstein, Senator Reid, and Governor Brown. It is quite a 
special place. Actually, it is a treasure. California shares it with 
Nevada. It is home to more than 290 species of wildlife, and it lures 3 
million visitors every year, but it has real problems, the same types 
of problems I talked about with the bay--nutrients flowing into the 
sea. The warmer temperatures of Lake Tahoe mean we have algae growing. 
We have problems with clarity, and it needs our attention.
  We have done a great job over the last 20 years when President 
Clinton came out. We had bipartisan support then, and we now have 
bipartisan support from Senators Reid, Heller, Feinstein, and myself to 
continue making sure Lake Tahoe thrives.
  The words everybody waits for when a Senator makes a speech, ``in 
conclusion,'' WRDA 2016 is truly a bipartisan bill which benefits every 
region of this great country. It will invest in our Nation's water 
infrastructure, create jobs in the construction industry, protect 
people from flooding, and enable commerce to move through our ports. It 
will encourage innovative financing through WIFIA, and it will begin 
the hard work of preparing for and responding to extreme weather.
  The bill is supported by 90 organizations--we will just give you a 
sample--representing business, labor, local government, ports, 
environmental conservation groups, and faith communities. As an 
example, the California State Coastal Conservancy, the Coalition for 
the Delaware River Watershed, the Congregation of Saint Joseph, 
association of water agencies, the Lake Carriers' Association, the 
Michigan Environmental Council of the States, GreenFaith, Friends 
Committee on National Legislation, and Franciscan Action Network.
  There is one more chart. Nature Abounds, Orange County Sanitation 
District, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Conference of Mayors, U.S. 
Great Lakes Shipping Association, and Upper Mississippi River Basin 
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the 
Record the organizations listed on the charts.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                      Letters of Support--S. 2848

                            Updated 9-12-16

       Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie; African American Health 
     Alliance; Alliance for the Great Lakes; American Association 
     of Port Authorities; American Council of Engineering 
     Companies; American Great Lakes Ports Association; American 
     Public Health Association; American Rivers; American Shore 
     and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA); American Society 
     of Civil Engineers; Associated General Contractors of 
     America; Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies; Bad 
     River Watershed Association; Bay Area Council; Bay 
     Conservation and Development Commission; Bay Planning 
     Coalition; BaySail; Big River Coalition; Black Heritage 
     Society Inc.; Black Millennials for Flint; BlueGreen 
     Alliance; California Association of Sanitation Agencies; 
     California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference; 
     California State Coastal Conservancy; Casa de Esperanza; City 
     of Sacramento; Clean Water Action; Coalition for the Delaware 
     River Watershed; Community Based Organization Partners; 
     Congregation of St. Joseph.
       Delta Institute; Ducks Unlimited; Earthjustice; Environment 
     America; Environment Michigan; Environmental Defense Fund; 
     Environmental Law & Policy Center; Franciscan Action Network; 
     Freshwater for Life Action Coalition; Freshwater Future; 
     Friends Committee on National Legislation; Genesee County 
     Hispanic Latino Collaborative; Genesee County NOW; 
     GreenFaith; GreenLatinos; Gulf Intracoastal Canal 
     Association; Gulf Ports Association of the Americas; 
     Headwaters Chapter, Izaak Walton League; Heart of the Lakes; 
     Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; Hispanic 
     Federation; Hoosier Environmental Council; Huron River 
     Watershed Council; International Union of Operating 
     Engineers; Lake Carriers Association; Land Trust Alliance; 
     League of Conservation Voters; League of United Latin 
     American Citizens; League of Women Voters of the United 
       MANA, A National Latina Organization; Michigan 
     Environmental Council; Midwest Environmental Advocates; 
     Milwaukee Riverkeeper; National Association of Clean Water 
     Agencies; National Association of Flood & Stormwater 
     Management Agencies; National Association of Hispanic Federal 
     Executives; National Coalition Of Blacks for Reparations in 
     America; National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc.; 
     National Ground Water Association; National Rural Water 
     Association; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources 
     Defense Council; Nature Abounds; North Atlantic Ports 
     Association; Ohio Environmental Council; Orange County 
     Sanitation District; Orange County Water District; Pacific 
     Northwest Waterways Association; Physicians for Social 
     Responsibility; Prairie Rivers Network; Realize America's 
     Maritime Promise; Rural Community Assistance Partnership; San 
     Francisco Public Utilities Commission; Save the Bay; The Bay 
     Institute; The Nature Conservancy; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; 
     U.S. Conference of Mayors; U.S. Great Lakes Shipping 
     Association; Upper Mississippi River Basin Association; and 
     Waterways Council, Inc.
  Mrs. BOXER. You can tell from just the few I read what an amazing 
coalition we have. We can do this.
  I have a fabulous committee that I am the ranking member of--fabulous 
on my side, wonderful on the Republican side. We really care about 
getting things done. I hope we will have a fabulous vote on this final 
passage and that the House will take up our bill, pass it, and not go 
back to square one and start arguing.
  I say to my friends in this House, through this opportunity I have on 
the floor, this is an example of bipartisanship. This is an example of 
good governance. This is an example you should follow because we 
avoided the fights, we worked together, and we worked it out. Let's get 
it done. Let's get it to the President's desk. Let's not wait for a 
lameduck. There is no reason. People should be able to know we did 
something good for them. We did something great for them.
  This bill, while I am sure it isn't 100-percent perfect from 
anybody's eyes, is very solid, very strong, very good. I hope we will 
pass it with the biggest vote we can and the House will take it up.
  Thank you so much for your patience.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I thank and acknowledge the work of the 
Senator from California, as well as the chairman of the Environment and 
Public Works Committee, not only on this WRDA bill but on previous 
matters relating to our water, resources, and our infrastructure--
  Mrs. BOXER. And highways.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. Our highway bill. This has been a collaboration that 
has been recognized in the Senate. I think sometimes we joke that 
sometimes we have some polar opposites in the Senate on certain issues, 
but when there is a desire and a will to create something, to create 
legislation and make good things happen, that good will rises to the 
surface. I think we have seen that play out with our colleagues from 
California and Oklahoma.
  Mrs. BOXER. May I make a comment through the Chair to my friend?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. BOXER. I just wish to thank you because you and Senator Cantwell 
are also an example of a team that is working through the toughest of 
issues. If somebody from the press asked you how do you do it--and I am 
sure they ask Senator Inhofe all the time, how do you do it with 
something who is a polar opposite in so many other areas--well, you 
have to find that sweet spot. You never know if you are going to be 
able to do it, but if there is good will and there is also respect, you 
can find it. You have found it in your committee. We have found it in 
  I also thank you because in all of my work, you have always been 
there, being very helpful and supportive, so I thank you very much.
  Ms. MURKOWSKI. I thank the Senator from California and do recognize 
that tough issues come to us. If they were easy, they wouldn't be here, 
and so it is our job to kind of thread that needle and do that.
  I know the Senator mentioned the people of Flint being happy with a 
resolution here. It is not just the people of Flint and the communities 
you have named in California. I can tell you that when we successfully 
pass this, the people in the small communities of Craig, the Pribilof 
Islands, Seward, and Little Diomede are looking for this infrastructure 
that will allow them, as very small communities, to have an economy 
because they now have a port, a harbor, and some infrastructure they 
can rely on.

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  When we think we are not making a difference, all we need to do is 
look to measures such as this WRDA bill.
  I commend my colleague for working with me, working with Senator 
Sullivan, including many of the priorities we had tried to advance on 
behalf of the good people of Alaska.