Just days after unveiling its water bill, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously passed the legislation Thursday.
Committee members touted the legislation as a critical way of cutting red tape to ensure that important projects can be completed more quickly.
The legislation authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer to carry out work on ports, water infrastructure, flood control and environmental restoration. Usually, Congress passes a water bill every two years, but there hasn't been one signed into law since 2007.
"At its heart, (the bill) is about jobs and improving America’s competitiveness," committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said in a statement. "A strong water transportation network is critical to keeping pace with other nations that are improving their own infrastructure networks and gaining ground in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”
The topic has taken on an added sense of urgency, with many ports rushing to complete dredging and other types of renovations in anticipation of a doubling in shipping capacity from an expanded Panama Canal by 2015. American ports want to be able to accommodate the so-called Panamax ships, which can carry more cargo but require deeper harbors.
The House acted slower than the Senate in introducing its water bill. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee introduced and approved its version of the legislation back in March. An amended version of that bill was passed by the full Senate back in May.
More details on the legislation are available here.