Water Bill is High and Dry
by Editorial Board
Seattle Times, November 12, 2007
FAINT hearts in the House and Senate mustered the votes and courage to give President Bush his first veto override, on a $23-billion water-resources bill.
Virtually every lawmaker found projects close to home worth protecting. Sounds like prime pork, and any massive bill has its share of oinkers, but this is fundamentally a supersized to-do list for the chronically underfunded Army Corps of Engineers. Dredging projects, levee construction, flood control, coastal restoration and river-navigation work are at the heart of the bill. Support for seismic work on a decaying and deteriorating Elliott Bay sea wall is included.
This was an odd fight for Bush to pick.
Yes, the numbers are huge. The House-passed package was $15 billion and the Senate version was $14 billion, and it all ballooned to $23 billion in conference committee. The legislation only authorizes the official list, which still faces an appropriations process that doles out actual dollars. Predictably, some projects will not make the cut.
Excuse the civics lesson, but the president needed it as well. He bemoaned money not yet spent, and pummeled Congress for its profligate ways. This legislative review is supposed to happen every two years, but the last time was seven years ago. An already hefty, belated list grew to include Hurricane Katrina reconstruction along the Gulf Coast.
The 2007 Water Resources Development Act attracted Democratic and Republican support throughout the Pacific Northwest because it does a lot for the region:
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