Missouri’s senators differ greatly on their approach to a huge water resources bill that could bring billions to Missouri.

Senator McCaskill, a Democrat, objects to the process used to authorize water resource projects, because Congress authorizes individual projects. She says the Corps of Engineers should submit priorities to Congress after conducting a cost-benefit analysis of each project. Congress then would decide whether the projects could be funded.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) could have a big impact on Missouri. A provision in the bill authorizes a $1.95 billion upgrade of the lock and dam system on the upper Mississippi River. If approved, the money would pay for seven new locks, replacing narrow locks built around the Depression Era. It is a high priority of farm interests in Missouri as well as others that use barge traffic on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The bill also contains $1.72 billion for environmental restoration along the Missouri and Mississippi river ways.

McCaskill says she can justify to Missourians voting against a bill that would greatly benefit the state, because she’s standing on her principles. McCaskill says she can’t stand by and allow House and Senate negotiators to add $9 billion to a bill while negotiating the differences between the two chambers.

Senator Bond, a Republican, pushed hard for the bill that he says merely gives authorization for projects. He says that even if the bill passes, funding must still be found. Bond says the Army Corps of Engineers has reviewed all the projects and no one should object, since all of the projects must go through the appropriation process.

The bill passed the Senate on an 81-to-12 vote.

Download/listen Brent Martin reports (:60 MP3)