You always hear about partisanship in Congress. No doubt there’s a lot of things we disagree on. However, we came together this week to pass a bipartisan bill to better manage our water resources across the country.
I was proud to introduce the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 (WRDA 22) earlier this year alongside the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Peter DeFazio (D-OR). This bipartisan bill governs much of what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does in managing our nation’s rivers and other water resources. In this year’s bill, my biggest focus was elevating the importance of flood control and navigation while limiting the negative impact of environmental boondoggles on our communities and local levee districts.
WRDA 22 does just that by increasing the resources available to levee districts to complete costly inspections on time, limiting the construction of experimental structures on the Missouri River and ensuring they don’t negatively impact flood control or navigation, and encouraging the Corps to work with the University of Missouri to consider the full impact of flooding on our rural communities.
On top of that, this year’s bill includes my Preventing Disaster Revictimization Act, which bars the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from going after innocent disaster victims when no fraud has occurred. I introduced this legislation after a Holt County flood victim was awarded individual assistance following the Flood of 2019, only for FEMA to come back weeks later and demand the funding back because they made a mistake. I soon learned this was an ongoing problem with FEMA and it has been happening all over the country. This legislation mandates that FEMA waives any debts due to errors by the agency and report to Congress how they plan to stop these kinds of mistakes from happening in the future.
In addition, WRDA 22 authorizes funding for sewer and stormwater projects across North Missouri. In St. Joseph, this funding will be used to update their aging sewer system, which, thanks to EPA mandates, has become a burden on local residents. In Hannibal, they plan to fix the stormwater system that failed during the 2019 flood and nearly inundated much of their historic downtown. In Camden Point, Excelsior Springs, and Smithville, this funding is intended to help with additional sewer system upgrades. All of these projects will need Congress to allocate the funds for the projects, but this is a great first step towards getting our communities the help they need.
WRDA 22 makes great strides towards advancing flood control and navigation, protecting disaster victims, and investing in our communities and I’m glad we were able to get such a great bipartisan accomplishment across the finish line.