Washington – The House overwhelmingly approved a final water resources bill Tuesday, and although she’s new to Congress, Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District has already gotten the hang of finding ways to help to local communities in the popular legislation.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act was approved in the House in a 412-4 vote and is expected to be approved by the Senate soon.
It’s popular because it funds local Army Corps of Engineer projects, especially since Congress is barred from putting earmarks, or special projects in legislation.
But by using broad legislative language, Esty was able to include a provision in the bill that mandates a comprehensive review of regulations regarding vegetation on or near levees.
That would help Torrington, which has been directed to take costly steps to maintain its levees on the Naugatuck River in compliance with decades-old standards required by the Army Corps of Engineers, including the removal of vegetation, Esty says.
But Esty says the Army Corps does not manage vegetation, a restriction that has hindered the city’s ability to revitalize the area “in an economically and environmentally sensible way.”
“I’m proud that a bill I’ve worked on since coming to Congress passed today with strong bipartisan support,” Esty said. “This is exactly what Congress needs to do — work together to pass common sense bills that spur economic growth, rebuild our infrastructure, create jobs, and cut bureaucratic red tape.”
Esty also lauded the bill’s elimination of $18 billion in old, inactive projects, which she said will “clear the way for new projects.”
But Taxpayers for Common Sense, an anti- spending group, called the bill a “boondoggle.”
It “is a missed opportunity to reform management of our nation’s infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner,” Taxpayers for Common Sense said. “ Faced with a $17.5 trillion debt, a Corps of Engineers construction backlog exceeding $60 billion, and the need for innovation in managing our growing infrastructure burden, [Congress] chose instead to mostly continue business as usual. “