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Bush Water Bill Veto Overridden, With Minnesota Support

November 9, 2007

Minneapolis, MN – The U.S. Senate has followed the head of the U.S. House, voting to override President Bush's veto of a $23 billion water projects bill. Norm Coleman joined other Minnesota Congress members in getting the bill through. He says, while he usually backs the President, the measure includes some critical projects.

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

Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz says this is the first water resources bill to become law in more than seven years, and it includes a significant item for Minnesota and the Midwest: improved traffic on the Mississippi River.

"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 that we've got bottlenecks down in St. Louis, too, that come out of this process and are holding back trade."

Bush had vetoed the bill, calling it "too expensive."

Darrell Gerber with Clean Water Action in Minnesota says, while the bill does include some "pork," it also addresses the contamination of our waterways.

"Along the lines of invasive species, a very important one 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, and protects Great Lakes fishery from this very worrisome invasive species."

The bill includes $82 million for Minnesota, including 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.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN