House panel proposes 14 percent increase in harbor maintenance funds

The following is text of a news release from the American Great Lakes Ports Association (AGLPA):

(WASHINGTON) — Late Sunday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development released its draft FY 2019 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. This legislation funds programs of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for federal fiscal year 2019. Known as a "chairman's mark," the draft legislation includes $1.6 billion for Corps of Engineers coastal operation and maintenance activities funded from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). In the Great Lakes these activities include harbor dredging, repair of jetties and breakwaters and operation and maintenance of the Soo Locks. 

The funding increase proposed in the legislation is a $200 million (14 percent) increase over the FY 2018 funded level of $1.4 billion.

Over the last four years, congressional appropriators have generally stuck to the spending targets enacted in the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). Last year, Congress exceeded the $1.34 billion spending target and provided $1.4 billion for the Corps' operation and maintenance programs. The target for FY 2018 should be $1.442 billion. By providing $1.6 billion in the chairman's mark, the House Appropriations Committee is blowing past the targets, jumping forward and aggressively moving toward full use of Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) revenue.

The chairman's mark will be considered and debated before a meeting of the subcommittee late this afternoon. Should it be approved, the legislation will then move to the House floor later this summer for debate and a vote. The Senate has yet to release its version of the Energy and Water funding bill.

By Professional Mariner Staff