Something unusual happened on Capitol Hill Wednesday. At a time when the nation is geared to immerse itself in consternation over who the next US President will be and the business of governing grinds to a halt in deference to the quadrennial worship season of the gods of politics – progress was made?! The House Judiciary Committee voted to approve the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Compact with the hope of bringing it to the floor perhaps before summer recess and definitely before the end of the year. The Senate Judiciary Committee spent nearly an hour politely listening to testimony on the Compact and the hope is that the bill that would allow the eight states and two provinces of Canada to jointly manage the Great Lakes waters may move to the floor this week.
Momentum clearly appears to be on the side of the Compact. HOW’s co-chair, Cameron Davis, urged the Senate panel to move on this during his testimony yesterday, “Congress asked for new standards, and the states, municipalities, businesses and public interest groups delivered. The Compact does exactly what Congress suggested. Now we’re asking Congress to finish the job and approve the Compact.” (To see all the testimony before the Senate committee click here.)
The swift approval from the House, the eager reception from the Senate and an endorsement from the US President all bode well for the Compact that is such an unusual bicameral, bipartisan issue in a divisive campaign year. “It’s one of these pieces of legislation that’s pretty rare right now in Washington. But Democrats and Republicans agree, the administration and Congress agrees, and we’re really hopeful we’re going to get this done before year’s end, if not sooner,” Governor Jim Doyle said during a press conference following his testimony before the Senate panel. Doyle is chair of the Great Lakes Governors Association.
Although the Compact was approved by state legislatures in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin it still needs to be ratified by two-thirds of the US Congress before it can become law.