The House Appropriations Committee, led by Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), approved by unanimous voice vote the FY ’16 Energy & Water Development (E&WD) and Related Agencies appropriations bill, significantly increasing funding in Fiscal Year 2016 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Program.
Highlights are as follows:
- 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.
- The bill increases the President’s proposed Construction account funding level by 39.9% to $1.631 billion.
- Within the Construction account, $340 million is made available for Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) priority navigation projects, an amount that the Committee Report states makes use of all estimated Inland Waterways Trust Fund annual revenues. This is one of WCI’s key requests for appropriators this year and is 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. According to the Committee Report, $42 million was added for inland waterways O&M above the President’s budget request.
- The Committee Report requires the Corps, in making allocations of additional funds provided for IWTF projects, to use the 2010 Capital Development Plan and not the new 20-year plan the Corps is working on currently.
- $1.4 million is provided for continuing the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal General Reevaluation Report (GRR).
- From the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), the bill’s FY2016 appropriation of $1.178 billion is a record, is $73 million higher than last year’s $1.1 billion, and is $263 million above the $915 million that the Administration requested from the HMTF.
WCI President Michael J. Toohey expressed thanks to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), and House Energy & Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Ranking Member Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). “Their leadership in passing such a strong funding bill that utilizes what they intend to be full use of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund is a huge win toward modernization of our nation’s inland navigation system,” Toohey said.