WCI today praised the leadership of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Energy & Water Development (E&WD) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) that led to unanimous approval of a bill that will significantly increase funding in FY 2016 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Program. The FY ’16 E&WD and Related Agencies appropriations bill, marked up today in the E&WD Subcommittee, was approved by unanimous voice vote with no amendments. It will head to the full Appropriations Committee next week.
The overall size of the Corps’ Civil Works mission portion of the bill is $5.597 billion and more than restores cuts to the program as recommended by the Administration, adding $864.75 million to the Administration request and increasing the FY 2015 appropriated amount for the Corps by $142.25 million.
A press release from the House Appropriations Committee said the bill “protects funding for critical national and regional waterways – which handle commerce valued at more than $1.7 trillion annually – through the Army Corps of Engineers, and programs that encourage energy independence and economic competitiveness.”
More highlights of the Appropriations Subcommittee’s action include:
•The Subcommittee bill essentially restores the significant cuts ($467.5 million or 28.5%) to the Construction account proposed by the Administration, or increases the President’s proposed Construction account funding level by 39.9% to $1.631 billion.
•Within the Construction account, $340 million will come from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund for priority navigation projects, what Subcommittee Chairman Simpson described as "full use of estimated annual revenue for the Trust Fund." This is one of WCI’s key requests this year for appropriators and particularly important in light of last year’s 9-cent increase in the barge diesel fuel tax rate.
•The Corps’ Operations & Maintenance (O&M) account funding level is $3.058 billion, the highest ever appropriated to this account in an annual appropriation bill, and the third consecutive year of record-level O&M funding. It is nearly $350 million higher than the Administration’s FY ’16 requested level.
•From the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), the bill’s FY2016 appropriation of $1.178 billion is a record, is $68 million or 5.2% higher than last year’s $1.1 billion, and well above the $915 million than the Administration requested from the HMTF.
“WCI is extremely grateful to Chairmen Rogers and Simpson, along with E&WD Subcommittee members Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), for increasing funding for the critical work of the Corps of Engineers, and for expending nearly full use of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund toward modernization of the inland navigation system,” said WCI President Michael J. Toohey. “As the Committee noted, this is a cause and effect scenario: invest properly in inland waterways and ports and increase U.S. competitiveness,” he continued.