The House passed a bill last week that would authorize $200 million in grants for wastewater treatment plants to improve security against terrorist attacks.
Bill H.R. 866, which passed by a 413-2 vote, would make the money available for water treatment plants to assess their vulnerabilities and adjust security if needed. The nation's 16,000 publicly owned wastewater treatment plants would be eligible to apply for the grants.
The bill also authorizes $15 million to help smaller publicly owned water treatment plants pay for technical assistance.
Congress still would have to appropriate funds authorized under the bill.
Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona and Ron Paul of Texas voted against the bill, sponsored by House Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young, R-Alaska, and Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota, the committee's senior Democrat.
A similar bill passed the House last year but died awaiting Senate action.
The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies, a trade group representing nearly 300 of the nation's public wastewater utilities, said it welcomed passage and was hopeful a companion bill would be introduced soon in the Senate by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee.