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Murray: Senate Votes to Override the President's Veto of the Water Resources Development Act

Nov 08 2007

Murray Says Override Shows Democrats Won't Let the President Block Americans' Real Priorities

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined her colleagues in voting to override the President’s veto of the Water Resources Development Act.  The override, by a vote of 79-14, means urgently needed flood control, navigation, and water quality projects can become a reality.  The House overrode the veto earlier this week.

Senator Murray said the vote showed the Senate won’t allow the President to block critical projects that will protect Americans’ health and safety.

“This vote sends a clear message to President Bush that we are not going to sit idly by watch him veto vital investments in our communities,” said Senator Murray.  “It’s time to turn the page on the President’s obstruction.  This is the first step – I hope there are many more to come.”

On Wednesday, Senator Murray spoke on the floor about the importance of the bill. 

The full text of Senator Murray’s floor remarks on WRDA follows:

Mr. President, I rise today to urge the Senate to override the President’s shortsighted veto of the Water Resources Development Act.

WRDA renews critical flood control, navigation, and water quality projects that are important in my home state of Washington, and across the country.

The bill ensures our waterways can continue to be used to move goods.  It helps restore beaches and wetlands, which are vital to the health of our coastal communities.  And it makes sure we are protected from catastrophic floods.

These projects are critical to our economy.  And, as we saw with Hurricane Katrina, they can also be a matter of life and death.

That’s why I was astonished that President Bush vetoed this bill.  

More than two years after Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, destroyed coastal Mississippi, and killed 1,600 people, the President said ‘No’ to this bill.

Even after he failed to respond to the devastation on the Gulf, he is standing in the way of projects that will protect the people of that region.

Mr. President, 81 Senators approved this bill in October because we understand that we have a responsibility to invest in these important projects that provide for our public safety and keep our economy healthy.

The President’s veto is another example of his misplaced priorities.  

Throughout the year, he has insisted on playing political games at the expense of our nation’s economy, health, and safety.

So – again – I urge my colleagues to override this veto and show the President that he’s got it wrong. 

I know most of the Senate agrees that it’s critical for us to address these needs now. 

This bill will help us avoid another catastrophe like that in New Orleans.  And it will help ensure our environment and our economy stay healthy.

WRDA Includes Important Public Safety and Economy Projects

Mr. President, too many years have passed since the Water Resources Development Act was re-authorized.

It’s now five years overdue.  And the needs keep piling up.

I want to thank Senators Boxer and Inhofe.  Their leadership in the first year of the Democratic-controlled Congress made sure this bill finally got to the President.

Mr. President, the tragedy in New Orleans provided a dramatic example of how necessary this bill is.

But there are hundreds of communities across our nation that have been waiting for years for Congress to act on this bill and ensure vital projects can get started.

For example:

  • WRDA creates a national levee safety program and ensures thousands of miles of levees across the country will get a general safety inspection.
  • It enables the federal government to act quickly on critical flood control projects.
  • And it helps local communities prepare for damaging and deadly floods.

 This bill is also about economic development.

It ensures that shipping can continue on our waterways, enabling us to move everything from wheat – to cars – to wind turbines – from port to port.

And it’s about making sure our lakes and beaches are clean and safe.

It protects our environment, promotes recreation, and provides jobs.

By vetoing this bill, the President said ‘No’ to the communities that have been waiting for years to go ahead with these critical environmental, safety and economic development projects.

Pacific Northwest Projects

And Mr. President, some of those communities are in my home state.

From shipping, to boating, to fishing, our waterways are vital to our way of life in the Pacific Northwest.

That includes a major shipping route along the Columbia River.  Container ships, bulk carriers, tankers, and car carriers travel back and forth along the river carrying goods in – and shipping lumber, grain, and countless other products out.

It’s vital to the economy of the region that the Columbia gets regular dredging and maintenance. 

WRDA lifts restrictions on the number of days federal dredges can operate to ensure that happens.

And it helps my region in another way, too. 

The bill gives the Corps of Engineers another tool so they can eliminate a huge backlog of permit applications for people seeking to do anything from building piers to expanding a port. 

That will save local governments millions of dollars.

So by vetoing WRDA, the President said ‘No’ to the economy, safety, and environment in Washington state, too. 

The WRDA Veto is an Example of the President’s Misplaced Priorities

Sadly, Mr. President, the Water Resources Development Act isn’t the first important – and bipartisan – bill the President has blocked.

It’s the fifth.

Besides this bill, President Bush has already vetoed:

  • Children’s health insurance, 
  • Life-saving stem cell research – twice, 
  • And our effort to change course in Iraq and bring our troops home. 

And he has threatened to veto several more appropriations bills. 

He objects to the spending bills because they invest $22 billion more than he requested. 

Now, President Bush is happy to talk about pork and complain.  But what he won’t do is tell us – and tell the American people – just what he wants to cut. 

Would cut health care funding?  Money to rebuild deteriorating bridges and roads? 

Maybe he would cut investments the FBI and DEA.  Or perhaps it’s the millions in funding for things like job training and education he objects to. 

He won’t say.  But he should know this – we stand by these important investments.  Our bills ensure that our roads, bridges, airports and railways are in good condition, that our children can see a doctor, and that we can do cutting-edge research to find a cure for diseases like diabetes and M.S. 

Yet the President has insisted on blocking these priorities, repeating his favorite four letter word – veto.   

Instead of investing in our communities, he insists on political games.

Instead of progress, he insists on vetoes.

Message to President Bush

So we need to send a message to President Bush.

We’re not going to stand idly by and watch you veto these investments in our communities.

I’m urging my colleagues to override his veto on legislation to prevent another disaster like Hurricane Katrina.  

I believe that standing together – as our friends in the House did earlier this week – we can send a strong message to the President about who has the right priorities for America. 

And I hope that by doing this we can finally unite with our Republican colleagues in choosing a new course on other important bills – the children’s health bill, our Appropriations bill, even the stem cell research bill. 

It’s time to turn the page on the President’s obstruction.  This is the first step – I hope there are many more to come. 

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again now:  People around the country are eager for a change. 

They want to see a light at the end of the tunnel. 

We need to make sure the President can’t put out that light.