For the second week in a row, the House will consider legislation aimed at boosting federal funding for a water project along the Kentucky and Illinois border.
Last week, the House and Senate approved a debt-ceiling bill that authorizes up to $2.9 billion for the Olmsted Locks and Dam Project on the lower Ohio River. That's a $1.2 billion increase above the project's current authorization level, a bump that prompted some to criticize it as a "Kentucky kickback" for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
This week, the House will take up legislation that would increase the extent to which taxpayers pick up the cost of the project.
Under current law, water projects around the country are paid for through a 50-50 split between taxpayers and the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. That fund is similar to the gasoline tax for automobiles — a fuel tax is assessed on inland waterways users, and the money is used to maintain and repair those waterways.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act, H.R. 3080, includes language in Section 216 that would require taxpayers to shoulder 75 percent of the costs for the Olmsted Project, instead of 50 percent. Under the bill, the trust fund would pay for the other 25 percent.
That bill could get a final House vote as early as Wednesday. If Section 216 remains intact, taxpayers will pay for $900 million of the
Here is the beginning of Section 216:
SEC. 216. PRESERVING THE INLAND WATERWAY TRUST FUND.
(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding section 102(a) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (33 U.S.C. 2212(a)), for each fiscal year beginning after the date of enactment of this Act, 25 percent of the cost of construction for the Olmsted Project shall be paid from amounts appropriated from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. ...
H.R. 3080 passed with 97% yea votes. Only an idiot wouldn't vote to "preserve the trust fund"!