WASHINGTON D.C. – Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Ranking Member David Rouzer (NC-07) 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, Madam Chair. When I go home and listen to my constituents, I often hear, “Why can’t Congress be a little bit more bipartisan?” I always point out that as a member on the House Agriculture Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, these historically have been two of the most bipartisan committees in Congress. Now, there are certainly complicated reasons why there is not more bipartisanship, but our constituents’ message is clear - they want us to work together to solve America’s problems. I would not be surprised at all if everyone of us at this markup hears that message. One of the problems they want to see fixed is our country’s wastewater infrastructure.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has given our wastewater infrastructure a grade of D+. Our cities, towns, and states are contending with aging wastewater infrastructure, all the while grappling with all the requirements of the Clean Water Act. Many of the programs in this bill haven’t been reauthorized in years. In fact, the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund hasn’t been reauthorized in almost 30 years. However, it is still one of the best avenues for States and localities to address critical water infrastructure needs.
Communities throughout the country face a number of challenges to addressing their clean water infrastructure issues. These include dwindling local budgets, access to independent financing, and mounting regulatory burdens. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that today’s bill is a missed opportunity on that front.
In the last Congress, we came to an agreement on a way to move forward on clean water infrastructure. That bill authorized a realistic level of funding, provided necessary regulatory relief, and took care of our small and rural communities. We moved that legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support.
We have also seen our colleagues in the Senate embrace a bipartisan approach, passing a water infrastructure bill a few weeks ago by a vote of 89 to 2. That bill contained funding levels similar to those this Committee agreed to last Congress, as opposed to the enormous, unrealistic amounts being pushed by the Majority here today.
Looking at the Senate’s actions this year, and the agreement we reached last Congress, there is obviously plenty of precedent for bipartisanship on clean water infrastructure. We have a rare opportunity here to show the American people that we can work together.
Unfortunately, by abandoning our bipartisan agreement and choosing partisanship, I fear the majority has squandered this opportunity. As we all know, a bird in hand is always better than two or three in the bush. And I might add, the President issued a statement in support of the Senate’s efforts on their very bipartisan bill.
For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to oppose this legislation, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Congressman Rouzer offered an amendment to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s wastewater infrastructure bill that would have substituted the Majority’s unrealistic, costly $52.5 billion bill with portions of the Senate’s bipartisan $18 billion agreement on wastewater infrastructure reauthorization, which garnered broad support, including from the Biden Administration, before being overwhelmingly approved in the Senate this past April. Unfortunately, the Majority voted against bipartisanship and blocked Congressman Rouzer’s amendment.
Click here for more information from today’s markup, including video.