Senator Bond says the importance of water projects to Missouri outweighed any loyalty to the president and led to his role in the first successful override of President Bush.
Bond says the $1.95 billion in federal funds authorized for new locks on the upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and the $1.72 billion for environmental restoration are needed in Missouri. Bond says Senators from the East and West Coasts don’t understand the need in the Midwest for these water projects.
Bond defends his tenacious fight for the projects against criticism leveled by the White House and by a few fellow senators. The Water Resources Development Act, known by the unwieldy acronym of WRDA, authorizes billions of dollars in water projects. Funding of those projects must come later, during the appropriations process. The WRDA bill had been held up for a variety of reasons since 2001.
Senator Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, argues that no new Army Corps of Engineers’ projects should have been authorized until a $58 billion backlog of projects is cleared up. Bond rejects the arguments, saying that most of the backlog projects are no longer priorities of the Corps and should be scrapped in favor of new priorities, such as the upgraded locks system, key to barge traffic on the Mississippi River.
Bond says he warned the White House not to veto the bill. Bond is known for being very loyal to President Bush, a fellow Republican. He says he told the president’s people that he would lead the fight to override the president, because he considered the projects too important to Missouri. The WRDA override was the first successful override of President Bush.