The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to override President Bush's veto of the Water Resources Development Act. The vote was 361-54 with 18 members absent, well over the two-thirds needed for the override.
"This is great! We have worked so hard and so long to get improvements on the Upper Mississippi River System authorized," said Ron Litterer, president of the National Corn Growers Association.
WRDA usually is updated every two years, but has not made it through the legislative process since 2000. Many issues with the country's inland waterways have come up in those seven years. The bill will not only modernize seven locks on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, but also provide funding for environmental restoration, flood control, port modernization, irrigation and hurricane protection.
Litterer says the project to upgrade the lock system will improve delivery of crops to the global marketplace. More than half of all grain exports are shipped by way of inland waterways, accounting for $8.5 billion in exports.
"For continued success, U.S. farmers need efficient transportation networks." Litterer wrote in a letter to Congress. "As with our highways and interchanges, the purpose of modernization on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers is to make the entire system more efficient."
The only thing standing in the way of enactment of the WRDA bill is a vote to override by the Senate, which is planned for this week. The Senate originally passed WRDA by an 81-12 margin.