Many Democrats expressed their concerns about how the bill could weaken environmental protections, but they voted for it anyway.
Numerous amendments were proposed, but I'd like to highlight one in particular, the one that addressed the problem noted above.
Rep. Pete DeFazio (OR-04) proposed an amendment to delay the streamlined environmental review process until the backlog of projects falls to less than $20 billion from its current level of about $60 billion.
The Hill explained,
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), H.R. 3080, includes language that seeks to streamline environmental reviews in order to move these projects to the construction phase more quickly. But several Democrats argued that environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) are not the reason why projects are delayed, and said the real reason is a lack of funding that has created a $60 billion backlog of unfunded projects.DeFazio's amendment failed on a mostly party line vote of 183 to 236.
"There's no evidence that the public participation environmental review process has caused delay," said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.). "The problem is not NEPA. The problem is that this Congress has failed to appropriate enough money to keep up with the projects we authorize."
Only two Republicans voted for it: Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and Chris Gibson (NY-19).
Twelve Democrats (many of the usual suspects) voted against it:
John Barrow (GA-12)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Timothy Bishop (NY-01)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Eddie Johnson (TX-30)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Filemon Vela (TX-24)