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Pallone Announces Opposition to WRDA

Dec 8, 2016
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr.’s (D-NJ) remarks as prepared for delivery on the House Floor during today’s consideration of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act are enclosed below:

I oppose the WIIN Act in its current form.  The decision by Republican leadership to include damaging legislation on California water in an otherwise good, bipartisan bill is deeply disappointing. 

Members and staff had devoted months to the underlying package, including long overdue aid for the people of Flint. But I cannot support the California water poison pill, and I know that many of my colleagues in the Senate are in the same position.

I want to thank Leader Pelosi and Whip Hoyer for working tirelessly over the last few months to develop this package, and over the last few days to save it.  I hope this is not the end of the story.

We have tried for years on the Energy and Commerce Committee to get our Republican colleagues to work with us to strengthen the Safe Drinking Water Act and provide more money for infrastructure, but they have refused.

So I welcomed the Senate’s bipartisan passage of an expanded WRDA that included some valuable changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act and significant new authorizations for infrastructure. 

And I was pleasantly surprised that House Republicans agreed to some of the changes and authorizations in that bill, including -

  • Aid for the community of Flint, Michigan, to address their significant and immediate drinking water infrastructure and public health needs, although the amounts fall short of what is ultimately needed;
  • Robust funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and $750 million in funding for new drinking water programs to monitor for lead in schools, replace lead service lines, support disadvantaged communities, and support research into innovating drinking water technology; 
  • Increased access to assistance for Indian Tribes; and
  • Stronger notification requirements following drinking standard violations and exceedances.

However, the drinking water provisions in this bill fall short of what was included in the Senate WRDA bill.  Most notably, Republicans refused to support a permanent requirement that projects funded through the SRF use American iron and steel.  That requirement should not be controversial – it has been enacted through the appropriations process for years and has clear benefits for American workers and the American economy.

House Democrats have proposed significant changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act that go far beyond this bill, including changes needed to address dangerous drinking water contaminants and the risks to drinking water from climate change.  Ignoring these challenges won’t make them go away.  House Republicans need to face these challenges in the coming months, not undermine our efforts with poison pills.