Nebraska Amendments Improve Water Bill For Taxpayers and Agriculture

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) issued the following statement after the Senate passed his amendment to the Water Resources Development Act that will require the Government Accountability Office to conduct the first-ever audit of the “environmental infrastructure” program, a program that has historically been a slush fund for earmarks.  

“Nebraskans made this bill better for taxpayers and agriculture. My amendment tasks the taxpayers’ watchdogs at the GAO with the first-ever audit of a slush fund that has evaded accountability for decades. Senator Fischer’s amendment provided regulatory relief for farmers and ranchers struggling with the EPA’s on-farm storage tank rules. At the end of the day, I opposed the final bill for expanding the EPA’s reach and spending too much but, thanks to Nebraska reforms, we’re on the right path. Nebraskans shouldn’t pay for Washington’s pork and that’s what my amendment is all about.” 


Sasse’s amendment requires the Government Accountability Office, the government’s main investigative arm, to conduct a two-year investigation into the “environmental infrastructure” program run by the Army Corps of Engineers. This will be the first-ever comprehensive review of the program in its history. This sets the stage for more reforms in the next Water Resources bill.  

For years, there has been bipartisan agreement that the program is wasteful. Since 1992 when the program was created, no Administration has advocated for funding this program. In 2010, President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility called for the program’s outright elimination. In 2014, the conservative Taxpayers for Common Sense condemned the program as a way to circumvent the earmark ban.

Text of Sasse’s amendment is available here.

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