While the divide between political parties has grown exponentially during the past decade, there are still a number of examples where Republicans and Democrats come together to achieve real results for the American people.
One great example is the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Despite being one of the most important pieces of legislation crafted by Congress to improve our nation’s water resources infrastructure — and certainly ripe with opportunities for partisan gridlock — a WRDA bill has been passed on time every two years since 2014. Not only has the passage of this legislation been consistent, but it has also been bipartisan. In fact, WRDA 2020 passed the House by voice vote. On those occasions when it didn’t pass with a voice vote, it has cleared the House floor with overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle. WRDA is the epitome of how Congress should work. Rather than trying to force the will of Congress on the American people, our focus has been to amplify and channel grassroots support for locally driven projects and initiatives that provide substantial regional and national benefits to the taxpayer.
As ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to help craft WRDA 2022 with critical input from my colleagues representing districts from across America. From policies addressing inland and coastal flooding, to initiatives to improve the strength and durability of our ports and inland waterways, this meaningful legislation is critical to meeting the unique needs of communities across the country and to strengthen the U.S. economy.
With the nation continuing to deal with the burden of a supply chain crisis, significant worker shortages, as well as other ramifications of both the pandemic and bad policy (inflation comes to mind!), there is an urgent need to elevate water infrastructure projects that enhance our transportation network enabling a more timely shipment of goods by increasing capacity and improving turnaround times. Time is money. The proactive solutions included in WRDA 2022 to improve our ports and inland waterways are a critical part of the equation to alleviate current disruptions and improve the supply chain delivery system today and in the future.
Improving flood and storm protection in America is another key component of the WRDA bill passed by the House this year that will provide much benefit. In my home state of North Carolina — from coastal towns, to rich agriculture fields, to the major cities, to the mountains — communities have experienced significant flooding events on numerous occasions. Many communities across the country have faced similar devastating impacts. Historic flooding such as this requires a re-examination of our infrastructure to ensure it is updated and capable of protecting life and property. Our citizens can’t afford the devastating effects of floods to their homes, farms, businesses and communities. While the federal government cannot do it alone — nor should it — we can help our fellow citizens, local governments, and state governments in their efforts to meet this challenge. The provisions in WRDA 2022 include priorities that many of my constituents sought that will help improve flood prevention and mitigation.
From strengthening U.S. and international commerce, to enhancing flood prevention infrastructure and maintaining our quality of life, House passage of the Water Resources Development Act is a critical win for the U.S. economy and our communities throughout the country. This bill is a great example of what can be achieved when Republicans and Democrats set aside their differences to find common ground on tangible solutions for all Americans.
It was a major achievement to keep this institutional tradition intact in today’s harshly political environment. Assuming these provisions remain in the final product of House and Senate negotiations, there will be many positive impacts resulting from the passage of this bill for decades to come.
David Rouzer represents the North Carolina’s 7th District. He serves as ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.