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.”
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