U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), co-chairman of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, delivered remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives recently in support of an amendment he introduced to H.R. 4923, the Energy and Water Appropriations Act, 2015.
The amendment ensures that H.R. 4923 complies with a provision within the recently-enacted Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA) which requires that 10 percent of federal dollars allocated for harbor maintenance funding be prioritized for the Great Lakes Navigation System (GLNS).
Excerpts of Rep. Kelly’s floor remarks:
“This amendment simply requires that the harbor maintenance funding provided in [H.R. 4923] complies with the recently-enacted WRRDA law and that the 10 percent funding requirement for the Great Lakes will be met. The Water Resource Reform and Redevelopment Act of 2014, which this body passed by a 412-4 vote, includes an allocation for the Great Lakes Navigation System of 10 percent of harbor maintenance funding provided above the 2012 baseline.”
“This is a bill that really dwells on the Great Lakes, and what a great gift from God this nation was given with the Great Lakes. One-fifth of the world’s fresh water – not one-fifth of Pennsylvania’s fresh water, certainly not one fifth of America’s fresh water, but one-fifth of the world’s fresh water – is in our Great Lakes.”
“There’s also a commerce element there. Now where does that fit in and why do we talk about that? Here’s why: We’re talking about jobs. We’re talking about jobs in our Great Lakes. We’re talking about 128,000 American jobs. Over 33.6 billion dollars in annual revenue. And it’s three percent of our nation’s gross domestic product.”
“This commonsense amendment just directs the Army Corps of Engineers to use the allocated funds as directed. We talk about the Great Lakes and we talk about it an awful lot and I think sometimes we forget how great this gift is and what our responsibility is to maintain it. Sure, it’s a gift from God, but it’s up to men to maintain it. In this great body, looking at this opportunity we have right now to actually direct funding — that makes sure that we can still navigate through our Great Lakes, that we can dredge our harbors, that we can do breakwater maintenance, that we can do jetties; all those things that are necessary to keep that line open.”
Press Release, July 23, 2014