As we reported earlier, President Donald Trump sent Congress a straightforward veto message on the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021. That measure passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, setting the stage for a vote to override the veto.
Now another piece of legislation of vital importance to the maritime industry, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA) is under threat. The measure was passed as a rider to the Omnibus Appropriations bill that included $900 billion for COVID-19 related funding. The Omnibus also included the FY21 Energy & Water Development (E&WD) appropriations bill that funds the Corps of Engineers.
Though the WRDA in itself received overwhelming support, through being wrapped into the Omnibus bill it has now become enmeshed with a far more contentious matter, coronavirus relief. As passed, the legislation revived supplemental unemployment benefits for millions of Americans at $300 a week for 11 weeks and provided for a round of $600 direct payments.
Enter President Trump. He did not send a formal veto message, but posted a video on line in which he was sharply critical of some of the other spending in the omnibus package and called for the $600 payments to be raised to $4,000.
An attempt to pass a measure in the House by unanimous consent that raise the payments to $4,000 failed this morning. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would vote Monday on a standalone bill on the matter.
Meantime, the WRDA is held hostage to all this.