by Ken Root and Whitney Newman
A key bill to modernize locks failed in the United States House in an embarrassing defeat for Republican leadership. G-O-P largely abandoned the bill over a controversial amendment. The locks bill is ‘dead in the water’ over an LGBT bathroom rights amendment, falling 112-305 with Republicans largely bolting.
The bill contained $6 billion for Army Corps civil works, and more than $370 million for inland waterways projects. Debra Calhoun is the Waterways Council Senior Vice President says, “We were very disappointed to see that bill fail.”
Even more problematic for House Speaker Paul Ryan is the collapse of the appropriations process, with ag, interior, and most other spending bills unfinished. He’s planning a “family discussion” with the G-O-P rank and file after the Memorial Day recess. Calhoun says, “What we may end up seeing is that all the unfunded, un-passed, bills just get rolled into a continuing resolution bill at the end of the year.”
Which could actually be better for locks modernization, with $30 million more in the Fiscal Year 2016 law, than the recently passed Fiscal Year 2017 bill. Separately, House Transportation and Infrastructure advanced the latest water resources development, or “WRDA” bill, rejecting lockage fees or tolls to finance projects on the Illinois waterway. 75 farm and other groups opposed the fees.