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Florida’s congressional delegation scores big WIIN, funding Everglades, water projects

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Florida’s Congressional delegation scored a win this week with the passage of a bill that will fund major water projects in Florida, including the Central Everglades Planning Project.

Four Florida congressmen put out press releases Thursday touting their votes for The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act of 2016, which passed the House with a 360-61 vote.

WIIN would provide more than $1.5 billion in funding for Florida projects, including $976 million for Central Everglades Planning Project, $308 million for the Picayune Strand restoration project and $220 million for Port Everglades Dredging.

Republican Rep. Thomas Rooney put out a press release touting the bill’s CEPP provisions, which will significantly improve the water flows through the northern estuaries, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.

“With Congressman Tom Rooney’s continued stewardship, we have seen significant progress toward restoring the Everglades,” said South Florida Water Management District Chairman Daniel O’Keefe in the press release. “Approval of the federal water bill by the full Congress, followed by appropriating funding, is vital to complete the Central Everglades Planning Project.”

Fellow Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart also joined in with a press release on WIIN, congratulating Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chair and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Bill Shuster for the bill’s passage.

“By investing in our nation’s ports, dams and drinking water services, we are not only helping the local economy, but also the families across the country that rely on having easy access to safe drinking water,” Diaz-Balart said. “The legislation also focuses on reducing the backlog of projects the Army Corps of Engineers have, saving taxpayer dollars and allowing the most important and necessary projects to be prioritized.”

Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch and Patrick Murphy also joined in with statements on the bill, though their feelings on the bill were somewhat mixed despite praise for provisions which will bring more business and jobs to South Florida.

“This bill is not perfect, and I’m disappointed that the Republican leadership included offensive provisions at the last minute putting water resources at risk in drought-afflicted California,” Deutch said. “As we begin the 115th Congress in January, I will continue to work tirelessly in Washington to fight for the interests of South Florida.”

Murphy added that while he was “disappointed to see partisan riders included in the WIIN Act instead of a bipartisan WRDA conference bill, Floridians should not have to wait another year for this project to be authorized.”

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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