Washington Waves
Washington Waves

WRDA Passes 93–1 In Senate, Heads For Conference

Washington, D.C.—By a vote of 93 to 1, the Senate approved its version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 by amending the version passed easily by the House in June.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, applauded the “impressive” Senate vote, which sent H.R. 7776 back to his chamber.

No doubt hoping for a smooth ride to final congressional approval, DeFazio noted the “many similarities” the two versions of the bill share.

He added that he looks forward to working with senators to pass the fifth biennial WRDA bill in a row.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, also expressed hope WRDA 2022 will be sent to President Biden’s desk soon.

Although Carper’s panel previously voted unanimously to advance its WRDA to the Senate floor, the House bill once again was used as the legislative vehicle to move forward with the Senate’s substitute amendment.

Informal talks at the staff level already have been held on resolving differences between the two versions, and congressional backers hope the bill will win final congressional approval in early September.

Such an optimistic timetable also would be welcomed by WRDA supporters outside of Congress.

In June, Waterways Council Inc. President and CEO Tracy Zea cited history that suggests WRDA 2022 may not be signed into law until after the November elections.

Senate Appropriations Bills

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) released his version of the 12 annual spending bills, expressing hope that the move will help break a months-long impasse on the fiscal year 2023 budget.

“The stakes of inaction are too high to not complete our work,” Leahy said, warning of negative consequences of using a long-term continuing resolution during a time of inflation.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the committee’s vice chairman, dismissed Leahy’s effort.

“Here we go again,” Shelby said, accusing the Democrats of unveiling partisan bills that spend billions more than even the Biden administration requested.

“Wasteful, off-budget spending that fuels inflation will be a non-starter.”

In addition to differences on spending, Shelby also singled out changes he said Democrats want to make on longstanding positions on abortion.

Unlike the Democratic-controlled House, which already has approved six of its 12 spending bills packaged together in a so-called minibus, Senate Democrats usually need Republican votes to move their bills.

FMC Compliance Bureau

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) announced it is reorganizing its investigative and prosecution functions by consolidating them into a newly created Bureau of Enforcement, Investigations and Compliance (BEIC).

FMC Chairman Daniel Maffei said robust enforcement of the new shipping law is key to his agency’s effectiveness.

“This reorganization has the support of all five commissioners and creates a structure better suited to meeting the mandate the president and Congress have given this agency to prioritize enforcement,” Maffei said.

“Specifically, it enhances FMC’s capacity to closely scrutinize the conduct of the ocean carrier companies and marine terminal operators to ensure compliance with the law and fairness for American importers and exporters.”

Until a permanent head is named, FMC Managing Director Lucille Marvin will serve as acting director of the BEIC.

Build America, Buy America

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is seeking comments on the Build America, Buy America provision in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law requiring construction materials used in projects funded by federal assistance to be produced in the U.S.

Specifically, DOT is seeking input on how the requirement should be interpreted and implemented, the present availability of construction materials produced in the U.S. that are commonly used in transportation infrastructure projects and the potential impacts to DOT-funded projects.

Written submissions must be received by August 12, but DOT said it will consider comments received after this date to the extent practicable.

 They should be submitted to Docket Number DOT– OST–2022–0047 via https://regulations.gov.

 For additional information, contact Darren Timothy at 202-366-4051 or darren.timothy@dot.gov.

Wing-In-Ground Craft

The Coast Guard is seeking input from the public on wing-in-ground (WIG) craft to support its compliance with a defense law and help assess the current state of WIG craft development and the technology to provide transportation support to offshore energy facilities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

 Public input, the service said, also will aid in developing a plan to demonstrate WIG craft capability to conduct such operations.

 Comments must be received by November 1 and may be submitted at https://www.regulations.gov.

For additional information, contact Lt. Cmdr. Dimitri Wiener at 202-372-1414 or dimitrios.n.wiener@uscg.mil.

Vessel Repair Entries

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a rule to streamline the vessel repair entry process by extending the timeframe from 90 to 150 days for vessel owners, masters or authorized agents (vessel operators) to provide completed entries and to apply for relief from assessment of those vessel repair duties.

CBP also announced it eliminated provisions that allow for requests for an additional 30-day extension to submit relevant evidence as those extensions are no longer necessary.

The rule took effect July 29.

For additional information, contact W. Richmond Beevers at 202-325-0084 or wiley.r.beevers@cbp.dhs.gov.

State Of The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are assessed as “fair” and “unchanging,” according to the “State of the Great Lakes (SOGL) 2022 Report” published jointly by the U.S. and Canada.

There has been tremendous progress in restoring and protecting the Great Lakes, including the reduction of toxic chemicals and a reduction in the establishment of new, non-native aquatic species, according to a statement that accompanied the report.

Intensified by climate change, it added, significant threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem include the impacts of nutrients and invasive species.

The SOGL and the 2022 Progress Report of the Parties will be the focus of discussion at the 2022 Great Lakes Public Forum in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, from September 27 to 29.

For additional information, visit https://binational.net.