WASHINGTON -- In a rare showing of bipartisanship, the U.S. House easily passed an $8.2 billion construction bill on Wednesday night that would fund upgrades at waterways across the country -- including several ports in Florida.
Indeed, the legislation, which passed 417-3 with no Florida lawmakers in opposition, would significantly boost projects throughout the Sunshine State, as six of the 23 approved projects in the bill are in Florida.
All told, the bill authorizes nearly $1 billion toward these six Florida projects. Among them: $28.6 million for Port Canaveral so that the cruise-friendly facility can widen and deepen its waterways.
The measure also tweaks regulations to give state governments the power to start certain projects that have been delayed on the federal level, including four in Florida: Jacksonville Harbor, Port Everglades, Lake Worth Inlet and the Central Everglades Planning Project.
The sophomore legislator was one of the chief proponents of the measure and said in a statement after its passage that it could mean a windfall for the state, especially with the upcoming expansion of the Panama Canal that will allow more -- and larger -- ships to transit between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
“Florida’s fifteen seaports support more than 500,000 Florida jobs and generate $66 billion in total economic value. The coming expansion of the Panama Canal offers the potential for even greater economic opportunity and job creation in Florida, but only if our infrastructure is prepared for it,” Webster said.
The Senate has passed its own version of the bill -- and the two chambers have to reach agreement before Congress can send the legislation to the president -- but Webster said he didn’t see much daylight between the two proposals.