The House Appropriations Committee’s FY2020 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies funding bill also would increase HMTF projects by $147 million.
The House Appropriations Energy and Water Development, and other Agencies subcommittee approved by voice vote Wednesday the fiscal year 2020 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies funding bill, which includes increased funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“We must invest robustly to bring American infrastructure into the 21st century,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., during the markup hearing. “That is why this bill increases funding levels for the Army Corps of Engineers’ construction account to advance construction on key projects and help address the Corps backlog. Robust increases are included for the operations and maintenance account as well as the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure we are maintaining our nation’s ports and harbors.”
The legislation includes a total of $7.36 billion for the Corps, which is $357 million above the fiscal year 2019 level and $2.53 billion above the presidential budget request. Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) projects would receive $1.697 billion, which is an increase of $147 million over the fiscal year 2019 level, $732 million above the budget request and $100 million more than the target set by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014, according to the Appropriations Committee.
Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities, said in a statement, “The House mark would bring [Harbor Maintenance Tax] spending to 95% of the estimated $1.782 billion FY2019 HMT revenues. We look forward to reaching 100% use of the revenues as well as the use of the over $9 billion surplus in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. Full spending of all revenues and the port industry’s funding allocation agreement would provide the needed resources to bring our nation’s harbors to their authorized depths and widths and address tax equity and fairness issues for all U.S. ports.”
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week favorably reported the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act, which would provide a discretionary cap adjustment that would allow for the full utilization of the HMTF.
The fiscal year 2020 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies appropriations bill also would provide the Corps with $135 million for investigations, which is a $10 million increase over the fiscal year 2019 level and $58 million above the presidential budget request, and $3.92 billion for operation and maintenance, a $183.5 million increase over the fiscal year 2019 level and $1.99 billion above the request.
The bill also would make full use of the estimated receipts for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) and provide for six new study starts and six new construction projects.
The IWTF hovered around $400 million from 2016 to 2018 following the passage of WRDDA. Waterways Council Inc. President and CEO Mike Toohey reiterated on Tuesday the council’s request to Congress to change the 50/50 cost share to 75% from general revenue and 25% from the IWTF, which would match the cost share for deep draft ports, as an option to maintain that funding level.
In all, the appropriations legislation would invest $46.4 billion to fund the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of the Interior programs, the Department of Energy and other related agencies. The funding level is a $1.8 billion, or 4%, increase over the fiscal year 2019 enacted level.
“Funding innovative programs at the Department of Energy and the jobs that comes from them, shoring up our energy and water infrastructure to bolster trade and promoting a comprehensive approach to the challenges of one of our most precious resources, fresh water, have been among my highest priorities as chairwoman,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Chairwoman Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, (pictured above) in a statement.