WASHINGTON, D.C.—A provision to lower the local cost-share for the Commonwealth, championed by Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), has passed the House and Senate and should be signed into law by President Obama soon. The language, contained in Section 1129 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, expands the existing local-cost waiver of $455,000 for Army Corps of Engineers work in the Marianas and other U.S. insular areas to include development plans.
“Language I added to the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 required the Army Corps to adjust the local-cost waiver to account for inflation over the two decades since the insular area waiver was first established at $200,000,” Sablan explained.
“My adjustment more than doubled the amount that the Commonwealth does not have to pay as a local cost-share for Corps studies and construction projects to $455,000.
“And we have already benefited from that reduction in local costs for the work the Corps is doing on the Rota and Tinian harbors.
“But the Corps subsequently determined additional statutory language was needed to apply the waiver to development plans. So we had to make the further adjustment in the law, which is now on its way to the President.”
In October Sablan wrote a letter, which other insular area members of Congress whose districts the waiver also benefits signed on to, asking the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to expand the areas of work covered by the $455,000 waiver.
And the House Committee did as asked, making the change in the conference report on the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 negotiated with the Senate.
Sablan extended his thanks to Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and also to Hawaii Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D) who identified the problem and also worked for a fix. (PR)