It’s been 493 days since the Flood of 2019 started. For many families and communities, the nightmare still isn’t over. While the images of washed away homes, flooded communities, and grain bins popped open like canned biscuits garnered national media attention, the 24-hour news cycle ended, and the media moved on. Our communities did not.
To this day, there are still countless levees that still haven’t been repaired. Thousands of acres of the most fertile farmland in the world still lie covered under floodwaters or silt and sand. And communities are still living in fear behind temporarily repaired levees meant to protect them from the next potential flood.
Back in Washington, it’s been an uphill battle trying to fix the way we manage our rivers and help folks rebuild and recover. Getting good, bipartisan bills done to help people just hasn’t been a priority for this Speaker. Thankfully though, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, has given us an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to work together within the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to get a good bipartisan bill done to help our communities impacted by repeated flooding and improve our water infrastructure.
I introduced this bill on Monday and yesterday we passed it through the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. It advances a new plan to better manage the Lower Missouri River Basin, building on bipartisan consensus to protect communities and family farms. It gives our communities more help planning and implementing flood control projects that limit the risk of future floods and it expedites the authorization process to get those projects done.
It does more than just prioritize flood control though, WRDA 2020 makes key investments in our harbors and inland waterways to help get our goods and products where they need to go. After all, 578 million tons of goods are shipped by barges every year, including a lot of the grain our farmers produce right here in North Missouri.
This legislation does all this in a fiscally responsible way. That is to say, it doesn’t blow up the budget or break the bank. It’s rare that we hear of real bipartisan work getting done in Washington, but I’m proud we’re getting some done, and I’m proud to be a part of it. This bill is a win for folks that live and work along our rivers, but it’s an even bigger win for America.
Sam Graves is the Mo. Sixth District U.S. Representative.