Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today was appointed as a member of the joint House-Senate conference committee convened to merge the versions of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013 passed by the two chambers. The legislation authorizes and reforms civil works programs and policies for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Senate-passed bill includes an amendment authored by Whitehouse to establish a National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes.
“As a member of this conference committee, I’ll be working to improve the ability of the Army Corps to carry out its mission in Rhode Island and across the country,” said Whitehouse. “My other priority will be the National Endowment for the Oceans, which passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. The Endowment would support ocean and coastal research and restoration projects critical to fisheries, tourism, and recreation – bolstering Rhode Island’s and our nation’s coastal economies and ecosystems.”
The Water Resources Development Act authorizes the Army Corps to assist with flood protection, ecosystem restoration, and navigation and facilitate the flow of commerce. The bill is expected to support up to 500,000 jobs.
When funded, the National Endowment for the Oceans would make grants available to coastal and Great Lakes states, local governments, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations. The grants would support research, restoration, and conservation efforts, including projects to restore habitat, manage fisheries, plan for sustainable coastal development, enhance ocean monitoring and research activities, acquire coastal properties for preservation and recreation, and relocate critical coastal infrastructure.
Other Senate members of the conference committee are Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Max Baucus (D-MT), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), David Vitter (R-LA), John Barrasso (R-WY), and James Inhofe (R-OK). The conference committee is expected to begin meeting later this year.