The Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) easily on May 15, by an 83-14 vote.

The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer and David Vitter (R-La.), would authorize new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, revise civil-works policies and give financial help to get projects built. A comparable bill has not yet been introduced in the House, but Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) has called WRDA his panel’s “highest priority.”

The bill also would implement some reforms in the way projects are delivered, such as accelerated reviews and deadlines for Corps studies. 
However, environmental groups say they oppose some of those reforms, and the Office of Management and Budget has said it had concerns with several of the bill’s provisions, including the acceleration of environmental reviews.

The OMB said on May 6 that “the project permitting provisions in S.601 are counterproductive, may actually slow project approval and do not adequately protect communities, taxpayers or the environment.” However, the OMB said it remained committed to working with Congress on the bill.

Some industry groups praised the bill’s passage. The American Association of Port Authorities’ CEO Kurt Nagle said, “Sens. Boxer and Vitter recognize the significant benefits more modern, efficient seaport and waterway infrastructure will have on our nation’s economic vitality, job growth and international competitiveness, as well as its value in helping address federal fiscal realities through sizable tax revenues provided by the cargo and trade activity moving through these systems.”