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Rep. Mike Levin
Congressman Mike Levin. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg
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Congress approves regional projects, funding for Camp Pendleton

REGION — Congress is expected to pass two bills before the end of the year that will bring millions to the region for local priorities including Camp Pendleton construction projects as well as area bluff erosion and flood protection projects.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Development Act, a bill that authorizes development for local projects in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Specifically, the bill includes an authorization for the San Luis Rey River Flood Protection project in Oceanside and the Del Mar bluffs shoreline project.

The long-awaited San Luis Rey River Flood Protection project has been stalled due to the need for more funding for completion before turning it over to Oceanside’s city government. The bill includes language that approves an increase in project cost.

Additionally, the bill authorizes a feasibility study for the Del Mar bluffs shoreline project, which will address erosion along the coastal rail line. The rail line connecting San Diego to Los Angeles is considered essential for the five major military installations in the San Diego area and is part of the US Army’s Strategic Rail Corridor Network.

The bill also includes language that expedites the completion of a feasibility study for the Oceanside Shoreline Study.

Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) said the three previously mentioned projects were his top priorities for the Water Resources Development Act, which he called a “critical piece of legislation” for the 49th District.

“These projects help save lives, property and ecosystems, and I’ll continue to work with the Army Corps and local governments to see them completed,” Levin said in a statement provided to The Coast News.

Congress is also expected to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Fiscal Year 2021, which includes $152.5 million for construction projects on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Of that amount, $25.2 million will be used for a combat water training facility, $21.8 million for warehouse consolidation and modernization, $68.5 million for the 1st MARDIV operations complex, and $37 million for I MEF Consolidated Interim Storage Center.

The projects will require additional funding from Congress, though this is a “key step” for the projects, according to Levin.

The NDAA bill also includes provisions that will increase pay for troops and expand housing, healthcare and legal benefits for veterans, according to Levin’s office.

President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the bill for a few different reasons, one of which is because it did not repeal a section of the Communications Decency Act that protects companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook from liability for platform content. He also opposes a provision that removes the names of Confederate generals from military bases.

Eric Mee, a spokesperson for Levin’s office, said the bill received veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate.

The Water Resources Development Act still needs to be passed by the Senate, but Mee noted that members of both the House and Senate negotiated the bill, so it should pass by the end of the year as well.