Today, the U.S. Senate overrode President Bush's veto of the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) of 2007, joining the U.S. House of Representatives' successful override vote earlier this week. The Great Lakes Boating Federation, on behalf of the entire recreational boating sector, applauds Congress for its commitment to the infrastructure needs of our nation's lakes, rivers and coasts.
Boaters across our nation should be grateful Congress had the conviction to issue President Bush his first veto override in the name of better navigation and healthier waterways. "WRDA of 2007 elevates the stature of recreational boating as well as the smaller harbors and communities that depend on boating," stated Ned Dikmen, Chairman of the Great Lakes Boating Federation. "The law authorizes numerous projects that will benefit recreational boating, and in many ways preserves its very future, on the Great Lakes and other waterways; from maintenance dredging to completion of the Asian carp barrier to prevent these invasive species from ruining fishing and boating on the Great Lakes." For a complete summary of gains for Great Lakes boaters in WRDA of 2007 please see the forthcoming article "Boating Gets a Boost" in the November/December issue of Great Lakes Boating Magazine.
However, the projects authorized in WRDA of 2007 are not yet funded and are subject to appropriations in Congress each fiscal year. Even after appropriations are passed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers exerts discretion over its spending, and recreational boating can still lose out to competing interests like commercial navigation. Thus, the successes in WRDA of 2007 can slip away without boating's vigilance.
Needing a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, to override the veto, the U.S. Senate vote today was 79 to 14. Earlier this week on Tuesday, November 6, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 361 to 54 to override this veto, also easily exceeding the two-thirds majority needed to override President Bush's veto. "The Great Lakes Boating Federation has worked to compel the federal government to tend to the needs of boating, and now Congress is taking steps in the right direction," Dikmen added.
Originally, the House of Representatives voted on August 1 by a whopping 381 to 40 margin to enact WRDA of 2007. Then, the Senate also voted to enact WRDA of 2007 by an overwhelming margin, 81 to 12. In spite of these vote margins passing WRDA of 2007, on Friday, November 2, Bush carried through on his threat to veto the legislation. President Bush characterized WRDA of 2007 as federal spending out of control and lumped the bill into his crusade against wasteful federal spending due to earmarks.
Whether you are in the Great Lakes region or elsewhere in the country, the Great Lakes Boating Federation urges you to call or write your Congressman and Senators to express your gratitude if they voted in favor of overriding the veto of WRDA of 2007. The Great Lakes Boating Federation can assist you with contacting your elected officials in Washington, D.C., and share with you some talking points about the successes contained in the WRDA of 2007 legislation.