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Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher Secures Authorization for Port of Houston Expansion in Water Resources Development Act

Houston, July 15, 2020 | Rocio Cruz

**Watch Fletcher’s Remarks in CommitteHERE**

(Houston, TX) – Working with a bipartisan coalition, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) secured authorization for the Houston Ship Channel Expansion Channel Improvement Project in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee today.  As a member of the Committee’s Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, Congresswoman Fletcher was instrumental in including this authorization to widen the Houston Ship Channel in WRDA and to provide for ongoing future maintenance of the entire channel.  The bill now heads to the full House for final passage.  

“The Houston Ship Channel Expansion Channel Improvement Project is critical to one of our country’s most important assets,” said Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher.  “Expanding the Houston Ship Channel is a  smart and much-needed investment to our infrastructure that will allow the Port to accommodate increased growth.  Since I arrived in Congress, I have been working with the Port of Houston, the Army Corps of Engineers, and with my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on both sides of the aisle to move the project forward.  I am glad to see it authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.  I am particularly pleased that we are not only authorizing this project but ensuring the recognition that the entirety of the channel project is of such importance that the entire length will be federally maintained.” 

The Houston Ship Channel Expansion Channel Improvement Project will widen the waterway from 530 feet to 700 feet, allowing the ship channel to accommodate two-way traffic of larger vessels.  According to Port Houston’s Economic Impact Study of the Houston Ship Channel, in 2018, the channel generated nearly $802 billion in U.S. economic value, supported 3.2 million jobs, and provided $38 billion in tax revenue.  In the state of Texas, it generated $339 billion in economic value, sustained 1.3 million jobs, and generated $5.6 billion in state and local tax revenue.


Watch Congresswoman Fletcher’s Remarks in Committee HERE.

Full Text of Congresswoman Fletcher’s Remarks at Markup:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I am glad that we are together today to mark up this important, bipartisan bill.  The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 is some of the most important authorizing legislation we have considered this Congress.  I would like to thank you, Chairman DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves, Subcommittee Chairwoman Napolitano and Ranking Member Westerman for their work on this critical legislation.

The Army Corps of Engineers has one of the most critical responsibilities in the country.  Tasked with managing the nation’s water resources development and management, the corps operates and maintains essential infrastructure thousands of dams, levees, ports, harbors, reservoirs and inland waterways across the country.  

In addition to supporting millions of jobs across the country and generating billions of dollars in gross domestic product, the Corps protects communities like mine from flooding by building and maintaining structures like the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs – some of the most transformative infrastructure investments in the history of my hometown of Houston and, really, of our country.

Another transformative infrastructure project for Houston was the visionary development of the Houston Ship Channel.  

It is interesting to know that it was back in the 1890s that our then-U.S. Representative spent many hours trying to convince his colleagues in D.C. to support a deep-water port for Houston. 

After the devastating hurricane in Galveston in 1900, the need became more urgent and, true to form, the Houston representative came up with what was then a revolutionary concept: that Houston and the federal government would share the cost of dredging a deep-water channel to Houston. 

The Congressional Rivers and Harbors Committee voted unanimously to accept the idea, and it was the first port to be built with federal funds and local matching funds.  Work began in 1912 and it has been growing ever since. Today, the Houston Ship Channel is one of the largest and busiest ports in the world – a 50-mile long complex, with nearly 200 public and private terminals along the Port of Houston. As Mr. Babin noted:

  • It is the busiest deep-draft waterway in the United States.  
  • It is the top export port in the country;
  • It is the largest energy port;
  • and it supports one of the largest petrochemical manufacturing complexes in the world.

That is why I am so glad that today we are authorizing the critical project to expand the Port of Houston.  

The Houston Ship Channel Expansion Channel Improvement Project is a project that will improve one of our country’s most important assets. 

Ensuring the necessary infrastructure is in place for efficient and safe connectivity to the global marketplace is essential. 

The Port of Houston has committed to building the upper two segments of the Channel, known as the locally preferred plan with a combination of local funds and private industry funds to expedite this important project.

I’m pleased that we are not only authorizing this project but ensuring the recognition that the entirety of the channel project is of such importance that the entire length will be federally maintained.  

I was glad to help lead work on this critical project, working with our Houston delegation extensively, meeting with Assistant Secretary James and the Army Corps Commander of the Galveston District, Colonel Vail.

I would like to thank all who were involved in helping make it possible to authorize this project today, including the tireless efforts of Committee staff and my own staff, and my colleagues on this committee, Mr. Babin and Mr. Weber, who have worked with me on a bipartisan basis to make sure the priorities of the entire Houston region are reflected in this bill, as well as Mr. Westerman, who I was so glad to join for a boat tour of the Port last year.

And thanks again to you, Mr. Chairman and to Chairwoman Napolitano for your leadership on this bipartisan bill, which will deliver on the promise we made at our first hearing to modernize our nation’s infrastructure.  

I am look forward to passing it out of our committee today, and look forward to voting for it on the floor soon.

Thank you, and I yield back.