Graves Named to WRRDA Conference

Press Release

Date: Nov. 14, 2013

Congressman Sam Graves (MO-06) has been named to serve on the conference committee for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), major legislation to update our nation's water infrastructure. The bill authorizes the key missions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including flood prevention and navigation. The House legislation, which passed the T&I Committee unanimously in September and sailed through the full House of Representatives by a 417-3 vote in October, cuts federal red tape while also streamlining the project delivery process. The conference committee, which consists of Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate, will work to reconcile differences between their two versions of the water resources legislation.

"Having efficient water infrastructure is critical to a healthy economy," Graves said. "As my district and state rely heavily on agriculture for economic activity, the river system is an important asset for moving products around the country and the world as well as importing vital products utilized by farmers across the heartland. Passing WRRDA means jobs, trade, competitiveness, and economic development for Missouri and America. I am honored to be selected for this assignment."

Regarding the appointment of Graves to the conference committee, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) said, "From the beginning, Sam has been fully engaged in making WRRDA a reality. Because his district is bordered by both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, Sam understands the importance of healthy ports and waterways in promoting jobs and economic development. His selection to serve on this conference committee is a recognition of his strong efforts to improve our nation's water infrastructure and bolster Missouri's and America's competitiveness around the globe."

Missouri's Sixth District is bounded by 284 miles of the Missouri River on both the western and southern borders and 103 miles of the Upper Mississippi River on the entire eastern border. Waterways and ports help support nearly 25,000 jobs in Missouri and contribute $4 billion to the state's economy.

Congressmen Graves and Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) were successful at including language in the House bill ensuring the Corps has a clear, results-based strategy for mitigation on the Missouri River -- language Graves will work to maintain in the final legislation. It requires the Corps to submit detailed information regarding its strategy for managing mitigation to Congress through the president's annual budget. Specifically, the Corps must describe proposed federal actions and assess progress for each fiscal year. It also requires the Corps to identify conservation acreage in the Missouri River Basin that could be incorporated into the mitigation project. These reforms will result in improved Congressional oversight of the Corps' river management efforts.

"One of the key concerns I heard at the August field hearing was with the way the Corps currently acquires land," Graves noted, citing House Small Business Committee hearing in St. Joseph in August seeking input from stakeholders regarding the management of the Missouri River. "The Corps should not needlessly buy up land without having an express purpose for doing so. This is a longstanding problem that Congressman Luetkemeyer and I have worked together to solve for several years, and which is addressed in this bill."