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The President Signs WRRDA 2014

Waterways supporters and stakeholders were in the audience watching as the President signed the WRRDA bill. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Waterways supporters and stakeholders were in the audience watching as the President signed the WRRDA bill. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Editor’s Note: These excerpts are from the White House Blog at www.whitehouse.gov, which gives a roundup of what the President does every day. On June 10, 2014, he signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).

It was a busy morning at the White House today, as President Obama signed two bills into law — the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), and the 65th Infantry Regiment Congressional Gold Medal.

In his remarks, the President first explained how the Water Resources Reform and Development Act will “put Americans to work modernizing our water infrastructure and restoring some of our most vital ecosystems.”

Although investing in infrastructure has historically garnered bipartisan support in Congress, the President noted that hasn’t been the case over the last few years. As such, he hoped that the passage of WRRDA would set a positive precedent for additional work on our nation’s transportation infrastructure – noting the urgent need for Congress to pass a bill to put Americans to work repairing our crumbling roads and bridges.

“I just want to be clear,” the President said. “If Congress fails to act, then federal funding for transportation projects runs out by the end of the summer,” which would put more than 100,000 active projects and nearly 700,000 jobs at risk.

Complete remarks, 11:08 A.M. EDT

The President: Hello, everybody. Good morning. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Please, have a seat. Have a seat. Thank you.

Well, today I am proud to sign two bills into law. Love signing bills. (Applause.) One will support jobs strengthening our national infrastructure; the other honors military heroes from our history. Though they accomplish two very different things, these bills do what we want all our laws to do, and that’s serve the American people by honoring our past and building a stronger future.

Now, the first bill I’ll sign today is the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, also known as WRRDA, which will put Americans to work modernizing our water infrastructure and restoring some of our most vital ecosystems. During my State of the Union address, I asked Congress to pass this bill by the summer, and I congratulate this outstanding crew for getting it done. (Applause.)

You had bipartisan negotiators -- Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Dave Vitter, Congressman Shuster and Congressman Rahall -- they set aside politics, they focused on what was important for the country and what was important for their communities, and as a consequence we have a piece of legislation that’s really going to make a good difference.

As more of the world’s cargo is transported on these massive ships, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got bridges high enough and ports that are big enough to hold them and accommodate them so that our businesses can keep selling goods made in America to the rest of the world. Meanwhile, many of America’s businesses ship their goods across the country by river and by canal, so we’ve got to make sure that those waterways are in tip-top shape.

And this bill gives a green light to 34 water infrastructure projects across the country, including projects to deepen Boston Harbor and the Port of Savannah, and to restore the Everglades. And with Congress’s authorization, these projects can now move forward. So this bill will help towns and cities improve their commerce, but it’s also going to help them prepare for the effects of climate change – storms, floods, droughts, rising sea levels – creating more adaptability, more resilience in these communities.

Traditionally, investments in our infrastructure have received strong bipartisan support. This hasn’t always been true in the last few years. Right now, we should be putting a lot more Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure. We’ve got $2 trillion worth of deferred maintenance that we could be getting done right now, especially because contractors are coming in under budget and on time. And there are a lot of guys with hard hats sitting at home.

So we could really be doing even more. The fact that this bill received some bipartisan support I think hopefully sets a pattern for additional work that we can do on our transportation infrastructure. We need a transportation bill by the end of this summer in order to make sure that projects all across the country don’t get shut down. So we’re looking forward to seeing this same teamwork hard on that. (Applause.)

I just want to be clear: If Congress fails to act, then federal funding for transportation projects runs out by the end of the summer. That means more than 100,000 active projects, nearly 700,000 jobs would be at risk. Fortunately, we’ve got some leaders here who I think can work with us to make sure that doesn’t happen. And the good news – last point I want to make about infrastructure – world-class infrastructure is one of the reasons that America became a global superpower in the first place. And the good thing about infrastructure projects is they can’t be outsourced. American workers have to do the job right here in America.

And American companies – it has huge ripple effects. You need steel, you need concrete, you need engineers, you need architects; you’ve got folks who have PhDs, and you’ve got folks who’ve got high school diplomas who can all benefit from the kinds of infrastructure projects that we’ve put together. So this should be really a high priority.

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