Approval of spending bill good news for future of backwater pumps
WASHINGTON — The Senate voted to advance a $1.4 trillion government spending package in a last bipartisan burst of legislating before leaving for the holidays.
The first bill in a two-bill package, covering domestic programs, passed easily Thursday by a 71-23 vote. A vote on a Pentagon and homeland security measure was expected later in the day Thursday.
The compromise bill would prevent a government shutdown this weekend. The White House has said President Trump would sign it before Friday’s midnight deadline.
But while the legislation will prevent shutdown, it has one particular feature that will be welcome news for those who live in the Yazoo Backwater Area.
In a release from U.S. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s (R-Miss) office Thursday, the senator announced the bill includes significant funds for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a number of projects including the completion of the backwater pumps project.
“The bills being sent to the President fit within our spending constraints but includes needed funding increases for our military and homeland security,” she said. “For Mississippi, these two measures represent a vote of confidence in Mississippi shipbuilding and aircraft manufacturing. It also supports agriculture and flood control in Mississippi, in addition to programs to support rural hospitals and rural development.”
Under flood control, Hyde-Smith’s office said “the bill includes $375 million for Mississippi River and Tributaries flood control, navigation, and dredging projects, in addition to language allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use these funds to conduct work on remaining unconstructed features of authorized projects impacted by recent natural disasters, such as the Yazoo Backwater Area Pump Project.”
The pumps project had become a hot topic over the year, as residents, businesses and farms battled a historic flood that covered hundreds of thousands of acres. The pumps themselves had been part of an overall flood control plan in 1947 but had been delayed and blocked by groups and governmental agencies worried about the environmental impact the pumps would have on the Delta and downstream along the Mississippi River.
While experts admit the pumps would not have prevented flooding in the backwater area, their presence would have curtailed much of the flooding damage.
The flood itself started in early February and receded in August, costing millions in lost business and causing millions in damages to homes, businesses, farmland and infrastructure.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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