WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., today said Senate confirmation of R. D. James to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works is important for the future of navigation and flood control works in Mississippi.
The Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm James, who was recommended by Cochran and Wicker early last year to lead the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A self-employed Missouri farmer who has served on Mississippi River Commission since 1981, James was confirmed by a 89 to 1 vote.
“The importance of the Army Corps of Engineers to Mississippi cannot be overstated. I am confident Mr. James understands the how the Corps of Engineers can work as a partner with communities to protect and improve our state,” Cochran said. “I congratulate Mr. James on his confirmation and look forward to working with him.”
“R.D. James has extensive experience working alongside the Army Corps of Engineers during his 36 years of service on the Mississippi River Commission,” Wicker said. “Today, the Senate confirmed a man who knows the importance of water infrastructure investment in supporting our nation’s economy and keeping vulnerable communities safe from the destructive effects of floods. I am confident Mr. James is the right man for the job, and I am positive he will be a strong advocate for Mississippi and our region.”
James’ confirmation was also supported by the Mississippi Levee Board and the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board.
In his new position, James will supervise all Department of the Army functions relating to water resources infrastructure carried out by the Corps of Engineers. He will also be responsible for the operation, maintenance and improvement of the Mississippi River and Tributaries (MR&T) Project, which was authorized by Congress following the devastating flood of 1927.
The MR&T comprehensive system of levees, floodways, channel and tributary basin improvements in the lower Mississippi River Valley is the largest navigation and flood control project in the world. It protects approximately 4 million people in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, and Illinois.
In their February 2017 letter of recommendation, Cochran and Wicker cited James’ experience in fostering collaboration between the Corps of Engineers and the private sector.
“As a civilian on the Commission, Mr. James has been responsible for facilitating collaboration between the Corps of Engineers and our nation’s most talented private-sector engineers,” the Senators wrote to President Trump.
They expressed their confidence that James is “eager to shift the Corps’ focus back to building useful infrastructure.”
“Federal agency red tape has unnecessarily delayed U.S. infrastructure investments in recent years. These delays have provided economic advantages to our global competitors and have prevented the American public from enjoying the full economic and disaster mitigation benefits the Corps of Engineers is capable of providing,” they wrote.