“NO” on the Water Resources Development Act of 2013

The Senate will soon vote on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013 (S.601), which would authorized federal spending on an array of water resource projects, including for ports, harbors, inland waterways, beaches, and wetlands, most of which are run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that S.601 outlays will be $12.2 billion over the fiscal year 2014-2023 period, though the substitute amendment will drive that cost significantly higher. In a time of record deficits, this is no time to be spending billions more on many activities that would be more appropriately funded and managed by states, localities, or the private sector.

For years, the Federal government has placed local-government and private-sector activities (such as beach replenishment, hydropower generation, flood control, and recreation facility construction and management) into the Army Corps of Engineers’ mission. For example, S.601 continues paying for the Corps’s 4,200-plus recreation areas. It also extends the life of beach nourishment projects by 15 years even though the projects have already lasted for 50 years. This federal spending on a local priority is akin to subsidizing wealthy owners of beachfront property. The bill also creates the National Endowment for the Oceans, designed to promote global warming policies under the guise of protection and conservation of the United States ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystem.

As The Heritage Foundation’s Emily Goff notes, before adding on any additional projects, the Corp and lawmakers need to further address the $60 billion backlog of 1,000 studies and projects and cancel funding for those that are unwarranted.

Heritage Action opposes the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 and will include it as a vote on our scorecard.

Related:
Heritage Action’s Legislative Scorecard
Heritage: Seven Costly Sins of the Water Resources Development Act of 2013