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Update on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1/S.1)

On Wednesday, January 28th, the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bill passed with a vote of 244 - 188, with no Republicans voting for the bill. The House bill includes $526.5 billion in spending and $275 billion in tax cuts, of that spending figure only about 5% will go toward infrastructure. Several amendments to the bill were adopted during the day, including one that boosts transit spending from $9 billion to $12 billion, a "use it of lose it" provision that requires 50 percent of the money for infrastructure is obligated within 90 days, and an amendment clarifying that highway maintenance money in the bill cannot supplant existing state funds.

Two notable amendments that were defeated were a provision to take the $800 million for Amtrak out of the bill and a GOP motion to recommit the bill that would have added $36 billion for highways and $24 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, while cutting spending for many other programs.

The final version of H.R. 1 does include nearly $5 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, with $2 billion going toward construction, $250 million for projects on the Mississippi River and Tributaries, $2.2 billion for Operations and Maintenance, and $25 million for regulatory programs. Finally, water resources programs received $500 million in funding. Some programs included in the $500 million are $126 million for water reclamation and reuse projects and $80 million for rural water projects, such as water intake and treatment facilities.

The bill will now be taken up by the Senate and a vote can possibly be expected as early as next week. The Senate stimulus package, S. 1, was approved in separate pieces by the Senate Finance and Appropriations committees this week and already totals about $888 billion, mainly due to the inclusion of a one - year patch to prevent the alternative minimum tax from hitting taxpayers in 2009.

The White House Releases Desired Metrics for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

On January 24th the White House released its major goals for the American Reinvestment and Recovery Plan. Of those major goals the President called for the largest increase in our nation's roads, bridges, and mass transit systems since the creation of the national highway system in the 1950s. The document goes on to state the need to modernize our nation's water systems with funding to support 1,300 new wastewater projects, 380 new drinking water projects, and construction of 1,000 rural water and sewer systems, ensuring that 1.5 million people have new or improved service.

WRC Letter to House and Senate Appropriators

The Water Resources Coalition sent a letter to both House and Senate appropriators on January 26th, 2009. The letter was addressed to Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Thad Cochran, (R-MS), Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Rep. Dave Obey, (D-WI), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Jerry Lewis, (R-CA), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee. The letter expressed the dire state that our nation's water infrastructure is currently in and encouraged Congress to include $7 billion in funding for the construction of water resource facilities through the Army Corps of Engineers and at least $2 billion for construction of water resource facilities through the Bureau of Reclamation in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Water Resources Coalition is an organization of groups representing private industry and government who are committed to ensuring that a comprehensive, national water resources policy is developed, implemented, and funded to provide a sustainable, productive economy; a healthy aquatic ecology; and public health and safety.

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