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Solution to Wastewater Bill Impasse
Sought in Draft Letter to House Speaker

Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) is seeking other Republican signatures on a draft letter requesting that wastewater infrastructure funding legislation move forward, a representative of the Water Infrastructure Network told BNA Jan. 16.

The letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) asks him to break a "log jam" over Davis-Bacon requirements that local prevailing wages be paid on projects receiving federal funds.

In attempting to attain signatures, Duncan will target Republicans who generally oppose Davis-Bacon but support water resources development and infrastructure, the WIN representative said.

Duncan, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, introduced a bill (H.R. 1560) in April 2003 that would fund the clean water state revolving loan fund at $20 billion over the next five years (65 DEN A-2, 04/4/03 ).

That bill, along with a proposal (H.R. 2725) introduced in July 2003 by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) to fund railroad infrastructure, have stalled over the Davis-Bacon provisions, usually favored by Democrats.

"As a matter of policy, we oppose applying Davis-Bacon to the programs authorized in these bills," Duncan said in the draft letter. "However, we also believe that this dispute should not stop important infrastructure legislation," he said.

"We ask you to help break this 'log jam' and bring both sides together to seek a resolution that will allow these bills to move forward through the legislative process and be enacted into law," according to Duncan.

The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated the disparity between the amount needed for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and that available at about $535 billion over the next 20 years.

WIN has estimated the total need for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure at about $1 trillion over 20 years.

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