Lawmakers introduced legislation this week to reform the funding of water resource projects.
The measure, introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., with backing by Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., establishes a national commission to set priorities for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects. It also instructs the agency to carry out research and construction in line with national priorities.
The bill would eliminate congressional earmarks for projects and give states more say in how they spend Harbor Maintenance Tax revenue.
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States would get more latitude for spending HMT collected at ports within their borders. The bill allows states to elect to receive revenue as block grants to be used for whatever purposes they consider a priority. The grants would be proportional to the amount of taxes collected. The portion of HMT allocated for Customs and Border Protection would not be affected.
“This bill answers the call of the American people who have demanded that we change the way Washington works,” DeMint said. “We can fund water resource projects of national priority, stop wasteful earmarks and give states the flexibility they need to address critical needs at our country’s busiest ports.”
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