Duckworth Receives Waterways Council’s 18th Annual Leadership Service Award for Her Efforts to Modernize America’s Infrastructure
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Last night, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) received the 18th Annual Waterways Council Leadership Service Award for her work advancing bipartisan infrastructure projects and championing America’s waterways. Upon accepting the award, Duckworth spoke on the vital role our inland waterways play bolstering our nation’s security and economy. Photos of the event can be found here.
“We’re in a race for economic dominance in the world. And the Council’s work—our partnership—will be absolutely critical if we want to stay atop the global order,” Duckworth said. “Because one thing’s for sure: for all the uncertainty about how we’re going to find the dollars to rebuild our transportation systems, we know that competitors like China and Brazil aren’t waiting for us to figure it out.”
“So I promise that I’m going to keep working with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to advance our priorities—one bill, one budget, one barge or port or lock and dam at a time.”
As a member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, Duckworth oversees issues related to the nation’s waterways and infrastructure and works to ensure Illinois receives adequate funding and other support from the federal government to rebuild and modernize our infrastructure and transportation systems.
Duckworth’s remarks as prepared are below.
Good evening, everyone.
First, I want to thank Wade Beasley for that kind introduction.
I also want to thank Mike Toohey, the Waterways Council Executive Committee and the Board of Directors for this wonderful honor.
As you all know, WCI has long led the way advancing the policies and projects needed to improve one of our nation’s greatest, and most underappreciated, assets: our inland waterways.
My first experience with our inland system was as a Captain in the Illinois National Guard, when I organized a shipment of equipment from Peoria, Illinois, to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
This experience gave me a deep appreciation for the value our inland waterways provide to both our economy and our national security.
With the help of WCI and other stakeholders, this past year was incredibly productive:
The Army Corps of Engineers received record levels of funding for Operation and Maintenance projects across the nation. Meanwhile, Congress dedicated nearly $190 million to complete the Olmstead Lock and Dam Project and to provide much-needed rehab on the LaGrange Lock and Dam.
This is music to the ears of those of us focused on inland waterway issues.
But more must be done.
On a general level, I believe Congress has to start thinking about transportation infrastructure as a system rather than as individual modes with individual constituencies.
Because each of those modes is interdependent on the others—and as we continue to debate how to best invest in our crumbling infrastructure, we need to embrace this relationship between modes to maximize the benefits of the system.
It’s called a supply chain for a reason!
Look, it’s hard to predict what the 116th Congress holds for infrastructure decisions. But I promise that I’m going to keep working as hard as I can with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to advance our priorities.
Because one thing’s for sure. For all the uncertainty about how we’re going to find the dollars to rebuild our transportation systems, we know that global competitors like China and Brazil aren’t waiting for us to figure it out.
After all, between 2011 and 2013, China used more cement to modernize its infrastructure than the U.S. did over the entire 20th century.
That’s one reason Senator Durbin and I have been pushing the Trump Administration to advance the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program: a program that maintains America’s competitiveness in the international marketplace and is thus critical to our long-term economic health.
We have an ally in Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James, who recognizes the importance of NESP.
And with the help of WCI, I’m going to keep pushing for NESP to be included in the President’s budget and to open the program to federal funding.
But this is just the beginning.
We’re in a race for economic dominance in the world. And your work—our partnership—will be absolutely critical if we want to stay atop the global order. One bill, one budget, one barge or port or lock and dam at a time.
Thank you again for this honor, and thank you for all you do to protect and improve our country’s waterways.
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