Congressmen for Arkansas' Third and Fourth districts released comments Thursday on the Defense Appropriations bill and the Water Resources Development Act that could have an effect on the Arkansas River navigation system.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, noted the 2019 Defense Appropriations bill was released from subcommittee and provides an increase of $17.1 billion above the fiscal year 2018.

“As our nation’s military evolves to adapt to the many emerging threats around the world, it is necessary to prepare our troops with training, resources, and stability to keep their focus downrange," Womack wrote. "This bill provides for the total force by ensuring the success of our missions, the safety of our people, and restoration of our military readiness. I look forward to swift consideration by the full Appropriations Committee and echoed support by the whole of the House.”

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, released the following statement upon passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) on Wednesday. 

“Yesterday’s vote is good for communities along the Arkansas River and the entire Fourth Congressional District," Westerman wrote. "The Water Resources Development Act reauthorizes investment in our inland waterways system, which is vital to our state’s economy. This legislation includes important language which would expedite the completion of the study for the Three Rivers project, essential to keeping commerce flowing through the MKARNS (McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.) I will continue to fight for Arkansas infrastructure with my colleagues on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and look forward to the work which lies ahead.”

In regard to the Water Resources Development Act, Womack said water infrastructure is a "critical component to our country’s transportation system" and "this year’s WRDA builds on the continued progress and goals of maintaining and improving America’s transportation network and efficiently moving commerce throughout Arkansas and the nation, while also promoting economic growth and jobs. WRDA works, and I look forward to its passage in the Senate.” 

Westerman pointed out in his newsletter this week that shipments totaling nearly 12 million tons were moved along the Arkansas River in 2017, a 3 percent increase over the previous year.

"Navigable waterways allow our local economies to compete globally, moving goods from the heartland of our country to our shores and beyond," Westerman added. "That’s why I was proud to join my colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week voting to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act, commonly known as WRDA."

Westerman went on to add that billions of dollars in goods move up and down water infrastructure across America each year and "WRDA continues investment in this infrastructure, supporting job growth in businesses large and small." The Fourth Distinct has more miles of the Arkansas River than any other congressional district, he added.