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$12B water bill barrels through House; Senate may vote this week

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By The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 8:21 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The House passed the closest thing so far this year to an infrastructure bill — a $12 billion-plus bipartisan measure authorizing 34 water projects, ranging from flood protection in California and North Dakota to deepening the Port of Savannah and widening a Texas-Louisiana waterway that services the oil industry.

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act passed on Tuesday on a 412-4 vote. Lawmakers shook off criticism from conservative and watchdog groups including Heritage Action and Taxpayers for Common Sense that argued the bill should have done more to rein in wasteful government spending.

The Senate could vote on the bill before the end of the week, sending it to President Obama for his signature. The legislation is a bipartisan compromise of companion bills passed separately by the House and Senate last year. A final deal on it was reached last week, concluding months of negotiations.

Supporters, including business interests like the Chamber of Commerce, hailed it as an economy-boosting measure that could deliver thousands of jobs.

“It's a bipartisan bill, and it is a jobs bill,” said Bill Shuster of Hollidaysburg, chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

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