The following is the text of a news release from the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI):
(WASHINGTON) — The Waterways Council Inc. on Thursday praised the bipartisan leadership of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Senate Energy and Water Development (E&WD) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for the 30-0 vote approving the fiscal year 2017 appropriations bill that increases funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program.
The Corps’ Civil Works mission funded in the Senate bill is $6 billion, an increase of $11 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level, and $1.37 million above President Obama’s budget request. It restores the 23 percent cut to the Corps’ budget proposed by the administration for FY 2017.
Highlights of the bill include:
• Construction account received $1.81 billion or $723.65 million more than the FY 2017 president’s request. The bill calls for full use of estimated annual revenues from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) to “help advance American competitiveness and export ability.” With the Olmsted Lock and Dam project to receive $225 million as requested by the president, a total of $369.75 million will be made available for capital investment to modernize the nation’s inland waterways transportation system. Additional full-use funding will be allocated by the secretary of the Army, taking into account the priorities established by WRRDA 2014.
• Operations and maintenance (O&M) received a record $3.17 billion, $468.83 million more than the administration’s request for FY 2017. The FY 2016 O&M funding level was $3.14 billion, the then-highest ever appropriated to this account in an annual appropriation bill, or $36.83 million more in FY 2017 than was appropriated in FY 2016.
• Investigations received $126.5 million, or $41.5 million above the FY 2017 request. The secretary of the Army will allocate these additional funds. WCI has asked that $10 million be dedicated to pre-construction engineering and design (PED) of the Navigation Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP).
• The bill surpasses the WRRDA 2014 target for Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund appropriations at $1.3 billion.
• $700 million above the president’s budget request was provided for construction of river and harbor, flood storm damage reduction, shore protection, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and related projects authorized by law.
• Mississippi River and tributaries (MR&T) received $368 million for flood damage reduction.
“WCI offers tremendous thanks to the bipartisan spirit of cooperation between Chairmen Cochran and Alexander, Vice Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski and ranking member Feinstein. Their leadership ensures that the nation will continue to properly invest in the modernization of our critically important inland waterways transportation system,” said WCI President Michael J. Toohey.