1982 Scorecard Vote
Reclamation Safety of Dams Act (H.R. 3208) authorizing $550 million to repair or replace 56 federal water projects. The vote in on the Solomon (R-NY) - Edgar (D-PA) amendment requiring those who benefit from the work to share in the costs. Most of these projects benefit large agribusiness interests by providing them with extremely cheap subsidized irrigation water (see vote #8 above). The amendment was a first step toward making them pay a fair share of the cost of the water, and thus an incentive for water conservation. As Solomon said on the House floor in arguing for his Amendment, "The $550 million in this bill simply the latest chapter in a long story of underpricing our natural resources through Federal subsidies. I am confident that when the subsidies are stopped, we will start spending both natural and fiscal resources more wisely."
Cost-sharing also gives local interests an incentive to look for the most cost-effective way to meet their water needs, which in this case meant repairing dams rather than new construction. One state, Arizona, was scheduled to receive three-fifths of the money in the bill, and was planning to use much of it to build the new Cliff Dam, instead of more cost-effective repair work. In the past Congress repeatedly turned down such cost-sharing proposals for water projects. But in the current climate of concern over budget deficits, the Solomon-Edgar Amendment had broad support, including President Reagan's. Amendment adopted 212-140; April 29, 1982. YES is the pro-environmental vote. (The dam safety bill died in the Senate where it failed to come to the floor for a vote.)