While Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)and George Voinovich (R-OH) are committed to pushing the Great Lakes Legacy Act through this Congress, the fact that we are up against a national campaign season is weighing heavily on the prospect of passage. Essentially, Congress has three weeks in September to try and finish business for the year and after that it will be all campaigning, all the time.
“We are hoping to get it done in September,” Garrette Silverman, a spokesperson for Sen. Voinovich said, “but as of now we don’t have any timing for floor action.” And there-in lays the rub, if not in September then the much needed GLLA money could languish well into the new year.
There is also a chance for dissention among the ranks since our hard working Great Lakes leaders have managed to successfully triple the reauthorization to $750 million over five years. Hill insiders speculate that the price tag could cause a fight and that will bring further delay. Still, we have reason to hope that the legislation will make it to the floor for a vote – Sens. Levin and Voinovich have promised to make it a priority this September.
On the other side of the Hill, Rep. Vernon Ehlers, (R-Mich.) has been enthusiastically shoving the Legacy Act through the House. Rep. Ehlers told the Muskegon Chronicle he is fairly confident that the GLLA will be approved by the end of this year. Surprisingly, there are still a few Great Lakes Representatives with Areas of Concern in their districts who have yet to cosponsor the reauthorization and they include John McHugh (R-NY), Mary Kaptur (D-OH) and David Obey (D-Wisc.).