116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Federal funds to help build the city's flood protection system took another step toward reality.
On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives on a 412-4 vote approved the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, which authorizes a Congressional commitment to help build Cedar Rapids'flood protection system.
The U.S. Senate is slated to vote on the measure later this week, sending it to the White House for President Obama's signature.
Both houses of Congress overwhelmingly approved its own version of the WRRDA bill last year, and this week's votes are to approve a single House-Senate Conference Committee final version of the bill.
The Cedar Rapids project is specifically named in the final bill.
The more-important Congressional appropriations bill, which would fund the $73-million federal commitment to the Cedar Rapids project, is not expected to be taken up by Congress until next year.
In a story in The Gazette on Saturday, Cedar Rapids city officials said they were overjoyed with the passage of the House-Senate Conference Committee report and expected passage of the final bill by both houses of Congress this week.
Mayor Ron Corbett gave Sens. Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin an 'A+” and credited Iowa's Congressmen for showing 'unified” support for Cedar Rapids flood protection.
'I think you look back over the last six years, and you look at the hurdles that we had to get over to where we are today, and I think a lot of people would have said the chances are really low to get anything done,” the mayor said. 'And here we are, about at the end of the journey, and we really have come a long way.”
Proposed Congressional funding for Cedar Rapids flood protection actually will be the smallest of three funding sources for a protection system on both sides of the Cedar River.
Last December, the state's new Flood Mitigation Board, which a city of Cedar Rapids' legislative proposal helped to create, awarded the city $264 million over 20 years for flood protection. The city also says that it already has spent $117.7 million on the project, most of which has been in federal and state disaster payments, and that the city will contribute another $110 million over time.
Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, and Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City, said Tuesday that the WRRDA bill not only provides help for Cedar Rapids, but also supports flood-control measures in Des Moines and flood control and navigation improvements on the Mississippi River.
'I am pleased that there is light at the end of the tunnel and this important legislation is finally on track to be signed into law, though it is way past due,” Loebsack said.
Braley said, 'Families and businesses in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines will now have additional peace of mind.”
Loebsack's Congressional district included Cedar Rapids during the city's 2008 flood and in the first years of the city's flood recovery. The Congressional district boundaries changed after the results of 2010 Census, and Braley has represented Cedar Rapids since 2013.
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