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Busy House Also Takes Action on WRDA and Rescissions Package

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On Thursday, the House passed two major pieces of legislation – the Water Resources Development Act (HR 8) and the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act (HR 3) also know as the Rescissions Package.

WRDA

The popular WRDA measure passed by a vote of 408-2 and funds major Army Corps of Engineers projects across the nation.  Unlike previous measures, this bill adheres strictly to “traditional” WRDA components “…to provide for improvements to the rivers and harbors of the United States [and] to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources…”   The bill authorizes $3.5 billion for Corps projects and programs.  The Administration has signaled support for the House measure  The Senate’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act (S 2800) also has bipartisan support but includes numerous provisions not found in the House bill.  The Senate bill has passed through Committee and awaits Floor action.

Rescissions

In May, the Administration requested that Congress vote to support a package of rescissions or spending cuts to be taken from Federal funding that has been appropriated but not obligated over the past several years.  Principal among the targeted areas were the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that had $7 billion in unspent funds, about $107 million in unmatched relief funds from Super Storm Sandy, and smaller amounts from a variety of grant programs that have not spent or obligated the funds.

On Thursday, The House approved $14.7 billion in funding rescissions.  The vote, 210-206 reflected the partisan response to the request.  According to the scoring of the Congressional Budget Office, most of the funds would not have been spent anyway, even the CHIP funds.  None of the rescinded funds come at the expense of state drinking water programs.

The Senate now has until June 22 to determine whether to support, modify, or reject the rescissions proposal.