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Delta Queen could cruise again thanks to bill sponsored by Blunt, McCaskill

The Delta Queen is in dry dock in Houma, Louisana.
Photo provided by Delta Queen Steamboat Company

The U.S. Senate approved Monday a bill sponsored by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill that would let the historic Delta Queen riverboat operate once again on the Mississippi River.

The Senate voted 85-12 in favor of the bill, which reinstates an old exemption for the boat, now based in Kimmswick in Jefferson County. The measure now goes to the U.S. House.

Until 2008, the vessel had been exempted from federal laws governing passenger vessels on the nation’s waterways. If the exemption is restored, the Delta Queen plans to begin and end its cruises in Kimmswick, visiting about 80 other ports.

Jefferson County officials estimate that putting the Delta Queen back in operation would create 170 local jobs and bring in more than $36 million to the region.

Both senators praised Monday’s vote in a joint statement.

“We’re full steam ahead to get the Delta Queen back home to the St. Louis region where she belongs,” McCaskill said. “Her return would mean tourists up and down the Mississippi can once again enjoy the rich history of one of our historic landmarks, and give Jefferson County an infusion of jobs and economic growth—a win-win that I hope will now be buoyed by bipartisan support from the House of Representatives.”

Blunt said the boat is “a remarkable part of our nation’s history, and I’m thrilled that it’s another step closer to making its way back to Missouri and once again cruising the Mississippi, adding: “Restoring the Delta Queen to full operation will create jobs, support economic growth, and enhance our state’s tourism industry. I’ll continue working to make sure more Missourians and visitors alike are able to see and experience this national treasure.”

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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