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Bush Water Bill Veto Overridden, With Minnesota Support

November 9, 2007

Washington, DC/Minneapolis, MN – A $23 billion dollar water project bill became law Thursday, as the U.S. Senate joined the House in overriding a Presidential veto. The bill includes $82 million in funding for Minnesota. Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) explains that, while he usually backs the President, this measure includes some critical projects that he believes require federal attention.

"What the bill means for Minnesota is infrastructure. You need that if we're going to grow economically, if we're going to have strong, rural communities and remain vibrant. I understand the President's concerns about fiscal responsibility and the budget, and I will support him on a whole range of matters. But, when it comes to this investment in infrastructure, as a conservative, this is something that we need to do to keep our communities strong."

The Minnesota projects funded in the bill include flood control improvements in Roseau, a radium filtration plant in Goodview, a wastewater treatment plant in Willmar and a harbor navigation project in Duluth. Plus, it upgrades the lock and dam system on the Upper Mississippi River, something Congressman Tim Walz (DFL-MN) says is significant for the entire Midwest.

"This is the fix to the 70-plus-year-old Upper Mississippi locks and dam system. It's an incredible piece of legislation, in that the Corps of Engineers has created a mitigation and conservation plan that has been very widely praised by many of the environmental groups. This one is a realization that we've got a crumbling infrastructure, and bottlenecks down in St. Louis, too, that are holding back trade."

Walz adds that this is the first water resources bill to become law in more than seven years. Bush had vetoed the legislation as 'too expensive," and Darrell Gerber, with the group Clean Water Action agrees it does include some "pork." However, he says it also addresses the serious problem of contaminated U.S. waterways.

"A very important priority is the funding of the Asian Carp barrier in Chicago that protects the Great Lakes from the spread of the Asian Carp up the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal into the Great Lakes. It protects the $4.5 billion Great Lakes fishery from this very worrisome invasive species."

All of Minnesota's Senators and Representatives voted to override the Bush veto, with the exception of Rep. Oberstar, who was recovering from surgery at the time.

Jim Wishner/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - MN