The Senate approved the conference committee's final version of WRDA by a vote of 81-12 Monday, sending it to President Bush's desk. The bill would modernize the lock and dam system of the upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
"An upgraded system is urgently needed to ensure U.S. farmers can efficiently move their crops to market and stay competitive in the international marketplace," says Ken McCauley, president of the National Corn Growers Association. In addition to agriculture, McCauley says the bill is vital for the rest of the country's infrastructure and transportation system.
President Bush has threatened a veto, saying the bill is too expensive. McCauley hopes the wide margins by which both the House and Senate passed the bill will make the president reconsider and sign the bill. But whether signed or passed by a Congressional veto override, there is still a lot of work ahead.
"We've got to go through a lot of the things in the bill such as getting the money appropriated," McCauley says. "And actually getting the locks built, so it's still a long term project."