The Conference Committee on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) kicked off this week with hopes of reaching an agreement that will be enacted by the end of the year. There are relatively minor differences between the House and Senate bills, both of which ASA supported, and were passed by the respective chambers on strong bipartisan votes.In his opening statement, House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, said, “Our bill cuts red tape, reforms the bureaucracy, and accelerates project delivery. It sets hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies. It also consolidates or eliminates duplicative or unnecessary studies and requires concurrent reviews. And our bill streamlines environmental reviews. These are all top priorities and I know we have much common ground.”Chairman Shuster also touted the provisions of the bill that authorize needed investments in America’s ports. Among the priorities for ASA, the House and Senate WRDA bills include reforms to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to better ensure that the fees collected from users of these systems are utilized for their intended purpose. The bills also provide flexibility and opportunities for public private partnerships.