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12/30/16

A Watershed Election


The last blog of 2016 entitled "A Watershed Election," written by our own MWRA member, Jeff Ballweber. 
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Many thanks to all who performed their civic duty by voting last month.  Regardless of the outcome, the election would herald in a new administration after 8 years under President Obama.  However, the election reflected what may be a watershed event for the federal government as President-elect Trump rode into office vowing to “Drain the Swamp”.  Before getting caught up in all this Presidential change, we should stop to look at the important tasks facing the 114th Congress in its waning days.  First off Congress must take action to keep the federal government running after the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on December 9, 2016.  Secondly, Congress has the opportunity to act on the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 before it adjourns.
 
At this time, things are still very fluid but it appears that Congress is on track to adopt another CR to keep the government running through April 28, 2017.  That will give the new Congress the opportunity to work with President-elect Trump to enact appropriations for the remainder of the fiscal year.  Similarly, it looks like the Senate and House conferees have reported out a WRDA bill to send to both houses for a vote.  To get a digital copy of the Conference Committee bill go to:  http://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20161205/CPRT-114-HPRT-RU00-S612.pdf  Passage of the compromise bill isn’t guaranteed but it does look promising. 


Returning to Presidential issues, its important to remember that the President cannot simply overturn legislation without Congressional action; however, it will be very interesting to see how agencies interpret and enforce regulations under President-elect Trump’s administration.  Similarly, it will be important to track which agency or agencies are selected to implement President-elect Trump’s promised major new infrastructure investment program.  Regardless of how these activities play out over the next four years; Mississippi’s ports and water managers should dust off and update their strategic plans to prepare for what could be a very interesting sea change in Washington, DC.  

1 comment:

  1. Excellent and timely post, Jeff. The 2017 WRDA, labeled the WIIN act, has indeed passed and signed into law. It's good news but only a start, since such laws do not provide funding for any of the projects they approve. Money for WRDA projects and for ongoing operation and maintenance must be allocated in separate funding bills. The Continuing Resolution authority that Congress passed is a weak substitute for a full year spending bill. Everyone needs to be aware of the need for a full year of ample spending authorization to put the WRDA to work and keep our waterways operating.

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