Mitchell Soo Locks Report Language Passes House in NDAA
WASHINGTON – This morning, the United States House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019 which included language offered by Congressman Paul Mitchell (MI-10) affirming the national security importance of the Soo Locks. The bill also included an amendment offered by Congressman Mitchell that eliminates unnecessary procurement requirements.
Upon the passage of the legislation, Congressman Mitchell released the following statement:
“This National Defense Authorization Act, which passed with broad bipartisan support, funds the military at levels needed by the Pentagon and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, ensuring readiness, equipment maintenance, and other issues are remedied to restore our nation’s military capabilities. It further provides a 2.6% pay raise for our troops, the largest in 9 years.
As the newest member of the House Armed Services Committee, I was proud to play a part in the creation of this bill, and am also proud that my first action on the House Armed Services Committee was reaffirming the national security importance of the Soo Locks,” said Mitchell. “Nearly all domestic iron ore – which is required for certain steel production, a substantial part of our economy and essential for national defense – travels through the Soo Locks. Steel production critical to our nation’s military and millions of American jobs is dependent on the Soo Locks, and there is no redundancy or alternatives to the locks. That’s why I am glad the full House of Representatives is urging the US Army Corps of Engineers, and all involved executive branch agencies, to expedite necessary reviews, analysis, and approvals in order to speed the required upgrades at the Soo Locks. I will continue to do everything and anything I can in Congress to get this project built, either as a member of the House Armed Services Committee or Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, conversations with my colleagues and the Administration, or on bills like this. I am also glad the House passed my amendment that focuses on eliminating burdensome and ineffective procurement rules that add no value and result in no cost savings to the government or contractors.”
The Soo Locks report language reads:
“The committee understands that the Soo Locks on the St. Marys River at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan are the only waterway connection from Lake Superior to the rest of the Lower Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. The committee is concerned that of the two current operational locks, only the Poe Lock is large enough to accommodate the 1,000 foot carriers necessary to transport a majority of the iron ore used in domestic steel production. The committee notes that this lock is near the end of its 50-year useful lifespan and that the United States Army Corps of Engineers is reevaluating a past economic evaluation report to update the Soo Locks’ benefit to cost ratio.
The committee believes that a failure at the Soo Locks would have drastic impacts on national security, in that the United States iron mining-integrated steel production-manufacturing supply chain is dependent on the Soo Locks, and there is no redundancy. Indeed, such a failure would cripple steel production that is used for national defense priorities. Therefore, the committee urges the Commander, US Army Corps of Engineers, and all involved executive branch agencies to expedite necessary reviews, analysis, and approvals in order to speed the required upgrades at the Soo Locks.”