Mrs. HARTZLER. Thank you, Representative Luetkemeyer.
I rise today in support of this amendment. Like he said, this amendment is about priorities. What is important? Or better yet, who is important? I would contend that people are important, people along the Missouri River, people who are seeing their homes flooded and their livelihoods destroyed due to flooding. Crops, businesses, and homes are underwater as levees have been breached and overtopped in parts of Missouri.
Now is the time to refocus our attention on what matters as we manage the Missouri River. We need to protect people and property. The President's 2012 budget, as Representative Luetkemeyer said, requested $72 million to ``recover'' the river for two birds and one fish, but only $6.1 million for operations and maintenance on the levees from Sioux City to St. Louis. Now, that's an example of wrong priorities.
This amendment ensures that the Corps of Engineers continues to focus on people and keep flood control and navigation as the focus. It's time to get our priorities back and to save tax dollars while we're doing it. That's a good combination.
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I do rise in opposition to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Missouri. The WRDA 2007 Act, which was passed with such bipartisan support that it overcame a Presidential veto, authorized the Corps to undertake the Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration Plan and develop the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee to consult on the study. This authority provided a venue for collaboration between the 70-member stakeholder group of tribes, States, affected
groups, and Federal agencies to develop a shared vision and comprehensive plan for the restoration of the Missouri River ecosystem.
By prohibiting the Corps from expending any fiscal year 2012 funding on the study, this amendment will result in a scheduled delay of the study, potentially additional start-up expenses and schedule impacts, and potential erosion of trust of the delicate partnership in this basin. There also could be legal implications associated with the National Environmental Policy Act if funding were prohibited for this study in the longer term. A 1-year prohibition would not allow work described above to
be done and could push the entire schedule of the report out.
I also do believe that it places the Army Corps in jeopardy of not being in compliance with the act, which could also adversely affect their operation of the dams on the waterways. In the long term, the study represents the required programmatic NEPA coverage for the Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Recovery Project; and 13 Federal agencies, eight States, and 15 tribes have formally agreed to cooperate with the agency under the act. The fact that this was authorized in 2007 in an overwhelming
fashion, that you have had this collaboration, and there are risks [Page: H5075]
involved in adopting the gentleman's amendment, I would urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. LUETKEMEYER. Mr. Chairman, very quickly, I think I understood the gentleman to say that this would affect some of the Corps' operations. This will in no way affect the Corps' operations whatsoever. This is a study that does nothing more than dictate how some things should be done after the study is over with. And in Missouri, our experience with these kinds of studies is such that we always come out on the short end.
We have farmers, and businesses, and communities along the river right now who have been dramatically impacted by previous studies which have protected fish and birds over the welfare of our citizens, our communities, and our businesses.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I would suggest that my colleague's relief stands with the authorizing committees. We have a law in place since 2007. Perhaps he might want it amended through the authorization process. At this point in time, I think it is unwise policy to slow this study down and would ask my colleagues to oppose the amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.
The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Luetkemeyer).
The amendment was agreed to.
AMENDMENT NO. 70 OFFERED BY MR.