The following is the text of a news release from Waterways Council Inc. (WCI):
(WASHINGTON) — WCI today applauded the work of negotiators to reach a final agreement last night for an FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill that funds the Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program under the Energy & Water Development Appropriations bill. The full House is expected to vote on a final agreement later this week.
FY ‘16 funding for the Corps’ Civil Works mission is $5.99 billion, a 27 percent increase above the president’s budget request of $4.73 billion.
Highlights of the bill include:
• Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF)-supported projects are meant to receive record-level funding of $405.6 million for priority navigation projects in FY ’16, a 75 percent increase over the administration’s request of $232 million.
• Operations & Maintenance (O&M) was increased to $3.13 billion or 15.8 percent above the initial budget request of $2.71 billion.
• Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) is $1.25 billion, up 31 percent above the president’s request of just $915 million.
• For the General Investigations account, $121 million was allocated, up 25 percent from the president’s request of $97 million.
• On the Navigation Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), statement of manager language makes clear that “the next appropriate step is to complete PED” (pre-construction engineering and design) and requires monthly briefings for the committees on any economic update or re-analysis that is done for the project. WCI advocated for $10 million for PED for NESP. Negotiators provided $5 million for General Investigations for inland navigation. The Corps will decide where the funding will be allocated.
WCI President/CEO Mike Toohey said, “Some things are worth the wait and this is certainly true for the FY ’16 Omnibus Appropriations agreement that provides record-level funding for the Corps’ Civil Works mission. The $1.3 billion above the administration’s request for the Corps’ overall funding will help to modernize our nation’s waterways infrastructure, facilitate exports, create jobs, make more efficient the transportation supply chain, and increase American competitiveness in world markets."
Waterways Council Inc. is the national public policy organization advocating for a modern and well-maintained national system of ports and inland waterways. The group is supported by waterways carriers, shippers, port authorities, agriculture, labor and conservation organizations, shipping associations and waterways advocacy groups from all regions of the country. Visit www.waterwayscouncil.org.