Senate approves $6.92 billion for Army Corps’ Civil Works

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The following is text of a news release from the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI):

(WASHINGTON) — By a vote of 86 to 5, the Senate on Monday passed fiscal year 2019 Energy & Water Development (E&WD) appropriations funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 5895). The bill will provide $6.92 billion for the Corps’ Civil Works mission, $2.14 billion above the president’s FY 19 budget request.

The Senate bill included an amendment offered by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, to enable full and efficient use of estimated annual revenues for the top five Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF)-supported priority navigation projects. Olmsted Locks and Dam (Ohio River, Ill./Ky.) will receive at least $35 million because it was requested in the president’s FY 19 budget. Subject to approval by the assistant secretary of  the Army, Civil Works (ASA CW), the following allocations are possible for the other top projects: Kentucky Lock (Tennessee and Ohio rivers, Ky.) $58.6 million; Lower Mon Locks and Dams 2, 3, 4 (Monongahela River, Pa.) $87 million; Chickamauga Lock (Tennessee River, Tenn.) $99.5 million; and LaGrange Lock and Dam (Illinois River, Ill.) major rehabilitation, $28.8 million.

The Senate bill also allocates to the construction account $2.16 billion ($1.28 billion above the president’s FY 19 budget request); operations and maintenance (O&M) funding of $3.74 billion ($1.663 million above the president’s budget request); and $123 million to the Investigations account ($41 million above the president’s request).

The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) received $1.52 billion. This level exceeds the target of $1.44 billion that was established in the Water Resources Reform Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014.

The Senate bill also calls for six new construction starts and seven new study starts to be determined by the ASA CW. 

The Senate bill rejected a user fee to be paid by commercial operators on the inland waterways that was proposed in the president’s FY 19 budget request that sought to raise more than $1 billion over 10 years.

On June 8, the House passed its FY 19 E&WD appropriations bill that included funding for the Corps of Engineers at $7.28 billion, up $451 million from FY 18 appropriated funding. The House bill also included full use of estimated annual revenues for IWTF-supported projects; $2.3 billion for the construction account ($1.3 billion above the president’s FY 19 budget request); $3.8 billion for O&M ($700 million above the president’s budget request); $128 million for the investigations account ($45 million above the president’s request); and $1.6 billion allocated for the HMTF. Like the Senate bill, the House bill also did not include a 10-year, $1.03 billion user fee to be paid by inland waterways’ commercial operators as proposed by the administration in the FY 19 budget. 

“We are grateful to the Senate and its inland waterways transportation champions for providing strong, efficient funding for the Corps of Engineers to fulfill its important Civil Works mission to the nation,” said Mike Toohey, WCI president and CEO. ”In addition to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and ranking member (and) Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., we also extend our thanks to E&WD Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Our appreciation also goes to Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wy., and ranking member Tom Carper, D-Del. Special recognition goes to Sens. Thune, Durbin, Klobuchar, Rounds, Grassley, Ernst and Alexander for their bipartisan leadership which produced strong outcomes for the top navigation projects."

The House and Senate will next move to conference their respective bills.

By Professional Mariner Staff