WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of H.R. 720, reauthorizing the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which is the primary source of federal funding for clean water:
"I want to commend the Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Mr. Oberstar of Minnesota, for all of his hard work and leadership on this important legislation reauthorizing the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for the first time in 13 years. And, I want to thank Chairmen Oberstar for his leadership on the two other important bills - reauthorizing sewer overflow control grants, and reauthorizing the pilot program for increasing usable water supply - which we considered and passed on a bipartisan basis this week.
"Mr. Speaker, the fact is, a clean, safe water supply is vital in communities - both large and small, rural and urban - all across this nation. We are not talking about a luxury, a perk, or a non-necessity. Clean, safe water is absolutely indispensable to the good health of all Americans - as well as our way of life and our continued prosperity. Just consider that our nation's farmers and fishermen and manufacturing and tourism industries rely on a clean water supply, and their activities contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to our economy every year.
"Our nation now faces a clean water crisis. As the Environmental Protection Agency warned in a recent report: "Without continued improvements in wastewater treatment infrastructure, future population growth will erode away many of the Clean Water Act achievements. One key reason for this clean water crisis is that much of the water infrastructure in our nation is rapidly approaching or already exceeding its projected life.
"So, I am proud today, Mr. Speaker, that the new House Majority - with the support of many Republicans - will take an important step toward addressing our nation's water needs by reauthorizing the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and authorizing $14 billion over the next four years.
"The fund is the primary source of federal funding for clean water, helping to provide low-interest loans to local communities for construction of wastewater treatment facilities and other water pollution abatement projects.
"In fact, since 1987, when the fund became the major federal source of clean water funding, it has provided states with more than $50 billion for more than 18,600 low-interest loans to local communities.
"The unfortunate truth is, the Republican-controlled Congress allowed the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to expire in 1994 and failed to reauthorize it because the Republican leadership objected to the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage law. And, in recent years, the former Majority cut funding for the fund by 34 percent - and the President has proposed cutting it even further.
"Mr. Speaker, it is a new day in this, the People's House. It is long past time for us to act on this important legislation. The new House Majority is absolutely committed to helping our cities and communities provide clean, safe water for the American people.
"I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle: Vote for this important legislation."