WCI applauds 'strong' appropriations bill that funds Army Corps

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

(WASHINGTON) — WCI on Thursday praised Congress for passage of the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) Energy and Water Development (E&WD) and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The House passed the bill on Dec. 17 by a vote of 297-120, and the Senate approved the bill Thursday by a vote of 71-23. The president is expected to sign the bill into law. Passage of FY20 appropriations bills was critical, as short-term continuing resolution (C.R.) funding for the federal government was set to expire at midnight Dec. 20.

The FY20 E&WD bill funds the Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works mission at $7.65 billion, $652 million above the FY19 enacted level and $2.69 billion above the president’s budget request. 

Very significant in the bill is the adjustment by Congress of the construction cost-share for Chickamauga Lock, this time to 65 percent General Revenue funding/35 percent Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) (from 50/50) for one fiscal year (FY20). This change enables efficient funding of all ongoing construction projects to advance their delivery date and lower final project costs. The bill utilizes more than full use of the estimated receipts of the IWTF that includes additional prior-year revenues to yield a very strong investment level of $317 million for FY20.

The construction account will receive $2.68 billion or $1.37 billion more than the president’s FY20 request, and $498 million more than the FY19 enacted level.

The Corps’ operations and maintenance (O&M) account is funded at $3.79 billion, which is $1.86 billion above the president’s record-level FY20 budget request.

Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) projects will receive $1.63 billion, an increase of $665 million above the president’s FY20 request. Once again, Congress will meet -— and exceed by more than 11 percent — the HMTF target set by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014.

Mississippi Rivers and tributaries (MR&T) will receive $375 million in FY20.

The investigations account funding is $151 million, which is $74 million above the FY20 administration request and $26 million above the FY19 enacted level. Included in the president’s budget, as well as the FY20 bill, is pre-construction engineeering design (PED) funding for the Three Rivers Project in Arkansas at $1.5 million.

The inland waterways investigations account received a 50 percent increase in funding ($3.25 million more than the FY19 level) that will allow for authorized projects and ongoing studies to compete for additional funding in the Corps’ 2020 Work Plan, expected 60 days after enactment of this bill.

“We are extremely grateful to the bipartisan leadership of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and House Appropriations Committee ranking member Kay Granger (R-Texas) that resulted in this strong funding bill with a critical cost-share change,” said WCI President and CEO Mike Toohey.

By Professional Mariner Staff