...of Engineers' project planning and implementation." The groups fault the peer review section for only applying to new projects and say the provision "lacks meaningful public involvement."

They also blasted the "upper Miss" plan as "the most expensive waterway project boondoggle in the nation's history."

Inhofe disagrees with critics of Corps “reform" provisions. (Photo courtesy of Office of Sen. James Inhofe)

Asked about the environmentalists' criticism that the WRDA bill's "reform" provisions are inadequate, committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla) told reporters after the voting session, "I'm sure that there are people who believe that. I don't believe that."

The water infrastructure bill approved by the committee on a voice vote with only Independent James Jeffords (Vt.) dissenting, authorizes $20 billion over five years for Clean Water state revolving funds. The allotments begin at $3.2 billion in 2005 and in 2006, rising to $3.6 billion in 2007, $4 billion in 2008 and $6 billion in 2009.

The legislation also provides $15 billion for drinking water SRFs over five years, starting at $1.5 billion in 2005, then increasing to $2 billion in 2006 and 2007, $3.5 billion in 2008 and $6 billion in 2009.

By a 10-9 vote, the committee also approved an amendment from Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to add $5 billion over five years in grants to small water systems for sewage treatment or drinking water infrastructure.

In addition, the panel approved another Reid amendment specifying that the Davis-Bacon Act's prevailing-wage requirements will apply projects financed by the SRFs. That amendment passed on a 12-7 vote. Republicans Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and George Voinovich (Ohio) joined all the panel's Democrats and independent Jeffords in voting for the amendment.