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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
Washington, D.C., May 16, 1978.
Washington, D.C. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN : The development of legislation involving waterway user charges has been, I believe, one of the more significant initiatives that has occurred within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Environment and Public Works in recent years. This issue has evolved over two Congresses, reaching the Senate floor on three occasions.
The Committee held extensive hearings on the issue, the records of which have been printed and are available to all interested persons. But as a way to clarify the record and to assist the Executive Branch and others to understand the issue more completely, I believe it would prove helpful if the Committee on Environment and Public Works could publish the Senate and House floor debates, as well as other items placed in the Congressional Record by both opponents and proponents of user charges.
Enclosed, therefore, is material from the floor debates of both the House and the Senate, as well as all the material that I have been able to compile that was printed in the Congressional Record subsequent to our committee action. I would request that you authorize the printing of these items as a committee print. My thanks for your consideration of this request. Sincerely,
PETE V. DOMENICI. Enclosures.
SENATE DEBATE-JUNE 21, 1977
WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT–S. 1529
AMENDMENT NO. 442
Mr. DOMENICI. Mr. President, I am today submitting an amendment to S. 1529, an amendment which would basically incorporate into S. 1529 the provisions of S. 790—both the construction of locks and dam 26 and implementation of waterway user charges
as reported to the Senate by the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
I am honored that I am joined in sponsoring this amendment by several of my colleagues familiar with the issues. They are Senators Anderson, Chafee, Clark, Culver, Gravel, Humphrey, McClure, McGovern, Muskie, Nelson, Proxmire, Stafford, Lugar, and Wallop.
I believe this amendment, as does S. 790, represents a fair resolution to these issues. By offering this amendment now we intend to give the Senate a chance to vote soon on these important issues involving national transportation policy.
Specifically, this amendment adds a title III to S. 1529. The new title that would do three essential things:
First. It authorizes the immediate reconstruction of locks and dam 26, at an estimated cost of $421 million.
Second. It authorizes an administrative process to develop, subject to congressional veto, a system of waterway user charges to be phased in over a decade, beginning in fiscal year 1980. Unlike the committee bill, this amendment also places a percentage lid on the user charge, even after the full, 10-year phasein. I believe this is an important addition, one that I know concerned many of my colleagues. To allay concerns among consumers, farmers, and shippers, the new language at the end of section 303(a) would prohibit any user charge exceeding 1 percent of the price of the commodity after shipment.
Third. It authorizes the development of a master plan for the Upper Mississippi River system that is somewhat more comprehensive than the one in S. 790.
Mr. President, this represents a compromise. It is an effort on our part to develop an amendment acceptable to the Senate, and one that resolves these two, interwoven issues in a fair and reasonable manner.
I might note that the administration has made it clear that President Carter will veto the reconstruction of locks and dam 26 unless it is accompanied by a reasonable system of user charges.
Mr. President, rather than attempt to explain the amendment in detail, I believe it would be more helpful to my colleagues to utilize portions of the explanations from the report by the Committee on Environment and Public Works. While this report fails to discuss the new 1 percent cap on user charges, I believe it fairly explains the philosophy behind the amendment. Therefore, Mr. President, I ask