In a speech to members of the national Waterways Council, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called for the passage of his two bills that aim to help the Army Corps of Engineers better maintain navigation on the Mississippi River during extreme weather and to improve the nation’s water infrastructure through public-private partnerships. The Illinois Corn Growers Association – scheduled to meet with Durbin later today – has endorsed both bipartisan proposals.
Earlier today the American Society of Civil Engineers released its “report card” on the state of America’s infrastructure. The overall grade for America’s infrastructure was a D+, slightly better than four years ago when America’s infrastructure received a D. But the grade for dams remains a D and the grade for inland waterways, levees and ports is D-.
“I introduced two bills last week to improve our national water infrastructure and make us better prepared for the next extreme weather event that might threaten navigation on the Mississippi River,” said Durbin. “Preserving the Mississippi River is vital to our well-being and our national identity. Preserving commerce on the Mississippi – and the rest of America’s ports and waterways – is essential to our economy. We made it through a crisis this winter. We showed that when your industry and government at every level work together and think in new ways, we can keep our waterways open even in tough times.”
Last week, Durbin joined with U.S. Representative Bill Enyart (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) to introduce the bipartisan Mississippi River Navigation Sustainment Act which would bolster efforts to maintain commercial river traffic during droughts and floods while minimizing the economic toll on Southern Illinois. He also joined with U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL) to introduce the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Now Public-Private Partnership Act which would improve the nation’s water infrastructure – including locks and dams along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers – through public-private partnerships that would expedite projects and save taxpayers money.