Waterways Council 2020 Member Fly-In and Hill Day
ILTA attended the 2020 Waterways Council (WCI) Washington D.C. Fly-In to advocate for the two organizations’ mutual interest in bolstering federal funding for the nation’s inland waterway infrastructure. On the first day, participants listened in on presentations from political analyst Charlie Cook, Representatives Hal Rogers (R-KY-5) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS-2), a panel of congressional environment and transportation staffers, and a number of members of the Army Corps of Engineers. All stressed the importance of the nation’s waterways and commended WCI’s efforts to bring such issues to the fore.
The three-day event was capped by an all-day Capitol Hill visit where event participants met with more than 100 congressional offices to argue in favor of their cause. The primary policy objectives were:
• Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) – Conform the cost-sharing of Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF)-financed construction projects to require in the future 25% of the project cost to be derived from the IWTF and the remaining 75% from General Revenues. This tracks the same formula used for the construction of the majority of the nation’s coastal ports.
• Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Appropriations – Provide for the construction of inland waterways modernization projects at the maximum funding amount supportable by expected revenues into the IWTF. Increase overall Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program Operations & Maintenance (O&M) funding.
• Additional Fees – Oppose additional tolling, lockage fees or other charges for the users of the inland waterways system.
• Infrastructure Package – Secure additional funding for the infrastructure of the inland navigation system in a comprehensive infrastructure bill.
ILTA participated as part of the Tennessee delegation and met with staff and/or Representatives Jim Cooper (D-TN-5), Tim Burchett (R-TN-2), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-3), Mark Green (R-TN-7), John Rose (R-TN-6), David Kustoff (R-TN-8), Phil Roe (R-TN-1), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-4), and Steve Cohen (D-TN-9), as well as both Republican Senators Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn.
All offices were receptive to WCI’s issues and most expressed strong support for funding its concerned initiatives. Congress has appropriated considerably more funding than the President’s proposed budget for waterways programs over the last decade and all the offices ILTA met with were in favor of continuing the trend.