WCI, AAPA Upbeat on Federal Funding for USACE, Inland Navigation Projects

Friday, September 14, 2018
Mike Toohey headshot.jpg

WCI yesterday praised Congress for passage of the FY2019 Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 5895 that combines appropriations bills for the Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veteran Affairs, and Energy & Water Development that funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Separately, The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) lauded the ‘On Time’ FY'19 Energy and Water Development Appropriation, also noting that it marked the first time since 2004 that an E&WD appropriation bill has passed before the new fiscal year.

The Conference Report was passed in the House by a vote of 377 to 20, and in the Senate on September 12 by a vote of 92 to 5. The measure now heads to the President’s desk for his signature into law.

This is the first time in many years that a number of appropriations bills have been finalized before the start of the new fiscal year. In the case of Energy & Water Appropriations, this means the Corps of Engineers will receive its full funding rather than operate from a Continuing Resolution that provides the previous fiscal year’s funding level.  

Drilling down, the news is even brighter. The FY19 appropriations funding levels for the Corps’ Civil Works program is $6.99 billion, up 46.08% from the Administration’s request of $4.79 billion.  This is the fourth consecutive year that Congress has increased funding for the Corps. FY19 appropriations funding for Operations & Maintenance (O&M) is a record $3.74 billion, up 24.67% from the Administration’s request of $3.00 billion. Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) funding in FY19 is $326.5 million, up 832.86% from the Administration’s request of $35 million to fund only the Olmsted Locks and Dam project on the Ohio River.

WCI President & CEO Mike Toohey said, “We are extremely grateful to the bipartisan leadership of Senate Energy & Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, and House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson and Ranking Member Marcy Kaptur.  Thanks as well as go to House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Chairman Garret Graves and Ranking Member Grace Napolitano, as well as Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Jim Inhofe and Ranking Member Ben Cardin for these strong FY19 funding outcomes that modernize our Nation’s inland waterways infrastructure.”

The news also comes in the immediate wake of last month’s dedication of the Olmsted Locks and Dam project. “The inland waterways’ many beneficiaries and the U.S. economy have much to celebrate,” Toohey added.  

According to AAPA, Congressional leaders achieved a major accomplishment with the passage of the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, which bundles three of the 12 fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills. This marks the first time since 2004 that the Energy and Water Development appropriation was passed before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.

“We applaud both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees for their successful efforts to pass this important funding bill before the new fiscal year begins. We very much appreciate the Committees’ leadership for recognizing the nexus between water resources development and economic prosperity” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO. “Federal investments in navigation-related infrastructure are an essential and effective utilization of limited resources, paying dividends through increased trade and international competitiveness, sustainable job creation and more than $320 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues.”

AAPA explained further that the Energy and Water Development appropriation funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation program, including deep-draft navigation construction and maintenance. Having the appropriation enacted will enable the Corps to maximize efficient use of the funds, especially with seasonally restricted dredging events in the first and second quarters of the fiscal year. Enactment eliminates 2019 work being subject to using continuing resolutions, which provide partial funding based on the previous year’s appropriation.

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