When Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell was nominated by President Obama last month to replace Kathleen Sebelius, we got an early warning from Senator Johnny Isakson that during her confirmation hearings he would be questioning her role in the keeping the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project off of the FY 2015 budget.
Today, she had her hearing, and was questioned by the Senator. After Isakson noted that getting the project started was his most important challenge as a Senator, and one that affected the entire U.S. economy, the nominee indicated that “there are ways this project can go forward.” However, she indicated that final passage of the Water Resources Development Act, which resets the budget amount allocated to the project, will go a long way towards Presidential approval of funding.
The WRDA bill is the subject of negotiations between Senate and House leadership. Once that difference–which has nothing to do with the harbor deepening–is resolved, the final bill is expected to be approved by both the Senate and the House. Once that happens, Georgia would be able to begin the project using state money until federal funding arrives, presumably in FY 2016.
Isakson’s questioning of Director Burwell can be seen below.
The inability of Washington to move the SHEP project forward, despite the admission of everyone that it is important and should be done was the subject of a recent front-page New York Times story.