WASHINGTON – The House overwhelmingly approved a water resources bill late Wednesday that failed to include authorization of the $10 billion Morganza-to-the-Gulf flood protection project in south Louisiana, but still sets the table for its potential inclusion in the final legislation.
While House members from Louisiana were unable to get the project included in the measure because of a GOP leadership wary of spending levels, Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge; Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson; and others did succeed in getting language included that allows the state and local entities to move forward with construction components of the project while final authorization is pending.
Morganza-to-the-Gulf is a series of levees, locks and other flood control features to protect Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. The two parishes are home to 200,000 people and 1,700 square miles of land.
The project is more than 20 years in the making and has been authorized by Congress twice, most recently in 2007.
It has been repeatedly delayed because of reviews, funding shortages and cost estimate hikes.
The House bill passed Wednesday on an easy 417 to 3 vote after House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., assured Scalise and Cassidy that he would call another committee hearing to consider the Morganza project.
The final U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report supporting the project came in July, just more than a month after Shuster’s last committee hearing.
The authorization of the Morganza is included in the Senate-passed version of the Water Resources Development Act that was co-sponsored by Sens. David Vitter, R-La., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.