Enactment of a new Water Resources Development Act will have to wait a while longer. A $21–billion House–Senate conference agreement on a $21–billion WRDA cleared the House Aug. 1. But Senate passage before the August recess was blocked by Russell Feingold (D–Wis.), who objected to approving it by unanimous consent, an aide says.

If the Senate does pass the new WRDA after it returns in September, the measure still faces another hurdle. Top administration officials have said President Bush will veto the bill, partly because of its cost. But the House�s 381–40 margin is well above the two–thirds majority needed to overturn a veto. A similar tally would be required in the Senate. No WRDA has been enacted since December 2000.

Feingold says the bill "does not do nearly enough to change the way the Corps [of Engineers] does business...." He says provisions for outside reviews of Corps projects are too weak, such as language that lets the "peer review" mandate expire after seven years. He also contends the outside reviews are not independent of the Corps.