As the House and Senate began their year-end breaks, there was no agreement in sight yet on a new Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA.

The bill would authorize at least $8 billion in Army Corps of Engineers projects and make changes in Corps policies.

Key lawmakers and staffers from both houses have been exchanging information since a House-Senate conference committee formally convened on Nov. 20 to work out the differences between the bills. The two chambers passed those measures earlier this year. But the lead Senate negotiator, Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), told reporters on Dec. 17 that "it's moving too slowly." Boxer said the Senate team had "sent many proposals over to the House side, and they've been slow to respond."

A House aide said, "We have a different assessment of the situation but respect the confidentiality of negotiations." The House's top conferee is Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).