House Appropriations Committee Passes ‘Strong’ Corps Funding Bill

By David Murray

July 17, 2017

The House Appropriations Committee, led by Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), approved by unanimous voice vote the FY 2018 Energy and Water Development and related agencies appropriations bill, significantly increasing funding in Fiscal Year 2018 for the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works program above the administration’s budget proposal for FY18.

The bill calls for full use of annual revenues from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF). It also calls for the Corps to report to Congress within 45 days on the proximity of Asian carp to the Great Lakes.

Among the highlights of the House bill:

  • Overall funding for the Corps is pegged at $6.157 billion, which is $1.156 billion above President Trump’s FY18 request and is an increase of $120 million above the FY 17 enacted level.
  • The construction account received $1.697 billion, or $677 million more than the president’s FY18 request, but still $179 million less than the FY17 enacted level. The account includes $175 million dedicated toward funding for the Olmsted lock and dam project on the Ohio River.
  • The House bill calls for full use of estimated annual revenues from the IWTF of at least $332.5 million, with the bill specifying that “the final program level will depend on project-specific allocations to be made by the Corps.”
  • The Corps’ Operations & Maintenance (O&M) account received a record-level $3.519 billion, or $419 million more than the administration’s request for FY18, and $370 million more than the FY17 enacted level. A total of $809 million was provided for inland O&M, $25 million above the FY18 budget request.
  • The Investigations account received $105 million, or $19 million above the FY18 administration request, but $16 million less than the FY17 enacted level.
  • The bill specifies funding of $1.34 billion from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), which is $40 million more than the FY17 enacted level, and hits the target set by the latest Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

Michael J. Toohey, president of Waterways Council Inc., expressed gratitude to House leaders for these “strong” funding outcomes. “[For] the bi-partisan leadership of the House Appropriations Committee … to pass such a strong inland waterways funding bill that utilizes full-use of Inland Waterways Trust Fund revenues is a true win for the nation’s inland waterways transportation system. These outcomes also strengthen America’s family farmers, steel producers, manufacturers, coal miners, and benefit U.S. consumers,” said Toohey.

The bill now moves to the full House and reconciliation with the Senate’s version before being sent to Trump for his signature.