Opening remarks, as prepared, of Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) from today’s markup of the Committee Majority’s wastewater infrastructure bill (H.R. 1915) – one of two bills being considered by the Committee today that could have been addressed in a bipartisan manner had the Majority been willing to do so:
Thank you, Chair DeFazio.
Throughout the Nation, water and wastewater infrastructure are long past their design life and in need of urgent repair, replacement, and upgrading.
This Committee has long proven it can successfully pass critical legislation and reauthorize programs through partnership – not partisanship. However, the Majority has now decided to go its own way on clean water infrastructure, in contrast to last Congress.
In the last Congress, we came to an agreement on a way to move forward on clean water infrastructure. That bill, which was once celebrated by the Majority as a means of making the Federal government a significant partner in sewage treatment improvements, authorized robust but realistic levels of funding, contained common-sense regulatory relief, and looked out for small and rural communities.
That bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. In fact, every Member on this Committee who served last Congress voted for that agreement. Today’s bill, I predict, will not produce the same outcome.
Just a few weeks ago, we saw our Senate colleagues embrace a bipartisan approach, passing a water infrastructure bill with realistic funding levels closely in line with our bipartisan agreement from last Congress. Committee Republicans have been ready to work on a bipartisan agreement that uses our bill from last Congress as a framework.
There was common ground to be found, both on providing robust but practical funding levels, and finding ways to relieve some of the burdens that communities face. But instead, the Majority decided to walk away from our previous agreement, authorizing unrealistically high authorization levels that will never get funded. Partisanship is why this program hasn’t been reauthorized since its last one expired in 1994.
We have an opportunity here to show the American people that we can work together, and my Republican colleagues and I remain ready to work on a serious effort to develop a bipartisan bill, but unfortunately the Majority isn’t interested in bipartisanship.
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