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For Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, Tuesday was a good day.

The House of Representatives, on a vote of 412-4, approved legislation to move an array of Sacramento-area flood control projects forward, concluding Matsui's nearly four-year quest for the bill.

Matsui said the vote removes a barrier to the completion of the Natomas Levee Improvement Project, a relief to 100,000 of her constituents "who have been waiting a very long time."

"We had to figure out a way, and we figured out a way," she said after the vote.

Last week, the House and Senate came to a final agreement on the Water Resources, Reform and Development Act. Both chambers passed their own versions of the legislation overwhelmingly last year in a rare show of bipartisanship.

But the final bill was delayed by the differences between the two sides: The Senate, controlled by Democrats, wanted to give the executive branch more authority to select water infrastructure projects. The Republican-majority House wanted to maintain Congress' traditional role in project selection.

The difficulty stemmed from the House Republicans' ban on earmarks, or funds set aside by lawmakers for their states or districts. Fiscal conservatives complained that water infrastructure and transportation bills had become bloated with expensive pet projects.

Ultimately, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the heads of the two committees charged with the legislation worked out the differences.

"I think they did that quite well," Matsui said, praising her colleagues.

Congress last approved a water infrastructure bill in 2007 at a cost of $23 billion. The House, then controlled by Democrats, overrode a veto from President George W. Bush.

The current bill would cost about $12 billion over 10 years.

After the Senate votes on the bill this week, it will go to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Matsui said she expected the Natomas project to begin very soon.

"Fortunately, we're beyond this, and now we're ready to go," she said.

Watch Matsui's floor speech on the bill:


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