The U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 14 agreed to go to conference with the Senate to resolve differences between their respective versions of the Water Resources Development Act reauthorization. The House appointed 28 conferees – 16 Republicans and 12 Democrats.
The bill is important because it is the federal government returning to the practice of investing in infrastructure. The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) believes that the broad support for the legislation is a good harbinger for reauthorization of the Highway Bill in 2014.
A meeting with the Senate conferees is expected this week. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent a positive signal about House intentions when he listed the water bill as a priority for passage before the end of 2013. NSSGA sent a letter to all conferees urging quick action to resolve differences on the multi-billion dollar bill that funds water projects across the country.
Of the House Republicans named to the conference, 14 serve on the Transportation Committee: Chairman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, John Duncan of Tennessee, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, Sam Graves of Missouri, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Candice Miller of Michigan, Duncan Hunter of California, Larry Bucshon of Indiana, Bob Gibbs of Ohio, Richard Hanna of New York, Daniel Webster of Florida, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma and Rodney Davis of Illinois. Two GOP members of the House Natural Resources Committee were also named negotiators: Chairman Doc Hastings of Washington and Rob Bishop of Utah.
Democrats appointed to the conference serve on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and include: ranking member Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Peter DeFazio of Oregon, Corrine Brown of Florida, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Tim Bishop of New York, Donna Edwards of Maryland, John Garamendi of California, Janice Hahn of California, Rick Nolan of Minnesota, Lois Frankel of Florida and Cheri Bustos of Illinois. Grace Napolitano of California, a member of the Natural Resources Committee, was also named.
The legislation passed both chambers with large bipartisan majorities. There were only 17 votes against the bill in the House and the Senate combined.