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Chairwoman Napolitano’s Statement at Hearing on Water Resources Development Acts

July 10, 2019
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC)  House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairwoman Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing titled: “Water Resources Development Acts: Status of Implementation and Assessing Future Needs:”

The Army Corps of Engineers is – simply put – the nation’s premiere water resources expert for our Nation.

Congress has vested significant responsibility in the Corps to carry out vital navigation, flood control, and ecosystem restoration projects for the benefit of our communities and our nation.  Each of these projects has been thoroughly studied by the Corps and authorized by Congress through biennial water resources development acts.

This Committee, on a bipartisan basis, has traditionally worked to move a water resources development act every two years, and has successfully enacted three consecutive Water Resources Development Acts since 2014.  Through these WRDAs, this Committee seeks to address local, regional, and national needs through authorization of new Corps projects, studies, and policies that benefit every corner of the nation.

The Corps’ implementation of the Water Resources Development Acts, particularly WRDA 2018, is important for us to understand.  We want to know that the Corps implements the law as Congress intended, and ensure that the Corps remains responsive to national, regional, and local priorities and to a changing climate.

I am specifically interested in WRDA provisions that involve the National Dam Safety Program, nature-based infrastructure initiatives, using data to enhance operations at our reservoirs, and the Corps’ assessment of their authorized project backlog.

For my district, I am very interested in ensuring that vital dam safety work at Whittier Narrows Dam is completed expeditiously, as well as ensuring the Corps has the tools and funding it needs to ensure a reliable source of water for the drought prone areas in the west. 

Staying on a two-year schedule for enacting a new WRDA is critical to water infrastructure to the nation, and today’s hearing starts the process for the development of a 2020 WRDA. 

But Congress is only half of the equation. We must have a partner in the Corps and this administration in requesting funding for Congressionally-authorized projects and studies. When the administration includes the words “NO NEW START” in a budget request, what that means is a NO to infrastructure. 

Secretary James and General Spellmon, thank you for being here today. I would also like to thank the South Pacific Region and the LA District of the Corps for their work and partnership throughout the years. I would also like to welcome our stakeholder panel for their participation in today’s hearing.

I look forward to working with you all in the development of a 2020 WRDA, and hearing your testimony today. 


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