Senate passes Warner-Wittman Chesapeake Accountability Act

congressThe U.S. Senate today passed the bipartisan Chesapeake Bay Accountability Act of 2014, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA-01), by unanimous consent. The legislation will bring increased accountability measures and a more collaborative management approach to Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts and spending.  The 2013 legislation now returns to the House of Representatives for approval.

The Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act of 2014 requires the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to prepare a crosscut budget to better track the progress of Bay restoration efforts, comparing costs and the performance of restoration activities by the various federal agencies involved in the Bay preservation effort. The multi-state, multi-year initiative to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay involves at least 10 federal agencies, Virginia and five other states, the District of Columbia, and more than 1,000 local governments.

“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and a centerpiece of the culture and economy of many coastal communities in Virginia, and neighboring states.  I commend the collaborative efforts of federal, state, and local partners across the watershed who are working tirelessly to preserve and restore the Bay,” Senator Warner said.  “In order to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay during a time of limited federal funding, we must make sure that every dollar spent on restoration activities produces real results.  I will continue to focus on ways to be a good steward of both the taxpayer’s dollar and the Commonwealth’s invaluable natural resources.”

“Today’s Senate passage of this Chesapeake Bay legislation is a tremendous step forward,” Wittman said. “After seeing my Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act pass the House with overwhelming bipartisan support numerous times, I am thrilled to see progress in the Senate. I appreciate Senator Warner’s steady cooperation and leadership in getting the bill passed through the Senate in its current form. Moving forward, I will push for swift House passage of this bill so that we can get it to the President’s desk.”

Sen. Warner first sponsored the Chesapeake Bay Accountability Act along with then-U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) in 2011. The 2013 Act was cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Rep. Wittman first introduced the bill in the House of Representatives in 2008. Versions of the bill have passed the House of Representatives alone or as part of broader packages in each of the last three sessions of Congress.

“This bill will display on one sheet which agencies are investing in Chesapeake Bay restoration and on what activities and where,” said Senator Kaine.  “Having chaired the Chesapeake Executive Council as Governor of Virginia, I understand the importance of tracking restoration work among many stakeholders in a tangible, quantifiable way.  This legislation is a good government measure that bolsters our efforts to clean up the Bay while improving the transparency of government spending, and I salute Senator Warner and Congressman Wittman for their bipartisan leadership on it.”

As Governor of Virginia from 2002-2006, Sen. Warner increased spending on natural resources by 34% and took a leadership role in protecting the Bay, including adoption of the most comprehensive nutrient reduction standards in the nation. Governor Warner’s final budget included $243 million for clean drinking water programs, and the Warner Administration funded the largest single investment in water quality in state history.

A PDF of the legislation is available here.

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