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Rahall hails passage of water projects bill

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By JAMES E. CASTO

For The State Journal

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., sees the overwhelming U.S. House approval of a bill authorizing work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a glimmer of hope for a return to bipartisanship in Congress, where partisan bickering has helped send the lawmakers’ popularity plummeting to a record low level.

Rahall spoke May 13 to a Small Business Conference in Huntington, sponsored by the Huntington Post of the Society of American Military Engineers. In his remarks at the Pullman Plaza Hotel, he noted that it had been seven years since Congress last enacted a Water Resources Development Act, which sets directions and priorities for the Corps and authorizes specific projects.

The ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rahall said the committee once had a motto: “There are no Republican bridges, no Democratic bridges, just America’s bridges.”

Rahall said he and the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., have been working to “rekindle” that bipartisan approach. As a result, he said, the committee members were willing to set aside their political differences and hammer out a bill that could be supported by lawmakers from both parties.

“We produced a bill that passed the House by a vote of 417 to 3,” he said. “Further, we have conferenced with the Senate to iron out the differences between the Senate’s version and the House-passed version.

“We now have an agreement on a conference report.”

Rahall predicted both the Senate and the House would approve the pending bill and send it to the president for his signature.

“My hope,” he said, “is that this momentum will carry us through to agreeing on a bold, fully funded, long-term transportation bill to keep our contractors hiring and Americans moving.”