Budget includes $1 trillion in DOT capital infrastructure improvements and hikes for trade enforcement operations and overall funding for the Office of the USTR.
The president’s fiscal year 2020 budget continues to prioritize increases in funding for Customs and Border Protection personnel and proposes to invest $1 trillion in Department of Transportation capital infrastructure improvements.
DOT’s infrastructure budget emphasizes distributing those funds competitively to state and local governments, port authorities and transit agencies for projects with “a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area or a region.”
Specifically, the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program would receive $2.035 billion in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $1 billion over fiscal year 2019.
A full-year fiscal year 2019 appropriation wasn’t enacted at the time the president’s budget for fiscal year 2020 was prepared, so the budget assumes annualized amounts for fiscal year 2019 based on 2019 continuing resolution funding provided by Congress.
However, the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program, which oversees the nation’s harbor and inland waterways maintenance, would receive $4.827 billion for fiscal year 2020, a 31 percent decrease from the appropriated fiscal year 2019 amount of $7 billion.
The Corps’ fiscal year 2020 budget proposes $3.025 billion for operations and maintenance, with $148 million for the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Inland operations and maintenance are designated for $705 million in the fiscal year 2020 request.
Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) proposed funding in fiscal year 2020 would be $55.5 million, with a total of $111 million requested for the Lower Mon lock and dam construction project (Monongahela River, Pittsburgh).
If the president’s fiscal year 2020 budget is accepted, then the Lower Mon would be the only IWTF project receiving funding next year, while the Kentucky and Chickamauga locks, which also require significant upgrades, would go unfunded, the Waterways Council warned.
The group’s president and CEO, Mike Toohey, called the proposed fiscal year budget for 2020 “very disappointing considering the president’s many positive pronouncements on the importance of infrastructure investment.”
For the U.S. Maritime Administration, the president’s budget for fiscal year 2020 calls for nearly $377.5 million for the operations and training programs provided to the U.S. merchant marine. Of this proposed amount, $81.9 million would specifically support operations of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and $242.3 million would go to the country’s six state maritime academies.
MarAd included within its fiscal year 2020 budget request $30 million to sustain those U.S.-flag ocean carriers currently enrolled in the Maritime Security Program.
However, the Maritime Guaranteed Loan (Title XI) program, which provides financial assistance to construct U.S.-flag vessels in the country’s shipyards, would be eliminated in the president’s proposed budget, and management of the existing loan guarantee portfolio would be administered by DOT’s National Surface Transportation and Innovative Finance Bureau.
For the Federal Maritime Commission, the president’s fiscal year 2020 budget calls for $28 million, a slight increase compared to the agency’s budget of $27.49 million for fiscal year 2019. The bulk of the FMC’s annual funding goes toward personnel and office rent expenditures.
For CBP, the president’s fiscal year 2020 Department of Homeland Security budget proposes $5.589 billion for full-time permanent personnel compensation, $361 million more than the fiscal year 2019 estimate.
CBP’s budget would allot $6.889 billion for CBP trade and travel operations in the agency’s operations and support account, $287 million more than fiscal year 2019.
DHS’ budget estimate also requests $6 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts to combat forced child labor, as well as $8.7 billion net for overall ICE funding.
The Commerce Department’s budget estimate for fiscal year 2020 includes several bump-ups for activities related to trade enforcement.
The budget includes $93 million for the International Trade Administration’s Enforcement and Compliance (E&C) division, $5 million more than fiscal year 2019, but $2 million less than the fiscal year 2018 appropriation. E&C is responsible for enforcing U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws and ensuring compliance with U.S. trade agreements.
President Donald Trump’s nomination of Jeffrey Kessler for assistant secretary of Commerce for enforcement and compliance was received by the Senate on Nov. 2, 2017, and nearly a year and a half has passed without the full Senate considering Kessler’s nomination.
The Senate Finance Committee has twice voted to advance Kessler’s nomination for full Senate consideration — once during the previous Congress, which expired in December, and once during the current Congress — but a Senate floor vote has not occurred.
In addition to E&C, the Commerce budget calls for a $10 million funding increase for Commerce’s Industry and Analysis (I&A) division from the fiscal year 2019 amount of $52 million. I&A employs data analyses to develop and implement international trade, investment and export promotion strategies to provide export and investment opportunities for U.S. businesses in foreign countries.
Commerce’s funding request also includes a $14 million increase for the Bureau of Industry (BIS) and Security’s Office of Export Administration (OEA), up from the $57 million fiscal year 2019 funding level. OEA develops and oversees U.S. dual-use export regulations.
Commerce is ordering a slight decrease for BIS’ Office of Export Enforcement (OEE), from $51 million to $50 million between fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2020. Among OEE’s functions are investigating violations of the Export Control Reform Act, International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Export Administration Regulations.
Like Kessler’s nomination, the Senate has been slow to act on Trump’s nomination for assistant secretary of Commerce for export enforcement, Jeffrey Nadaner. The Senate originally received the nomination on Feb. 13, 2018. The Senate Banking Committee cleared Nadaner in May, during the last Congress, and again on March 12 during the current Congress. Senate floor consideration has yet to take place.
Commerce’s budget also notes increased resources to support Commerce’s membership in the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person to determine the effect of such transactions on U.S. national security.
The White House budget for the Executive Office of the President, which includes the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, proposes $59 million in discretionary spending for USTR, a $2 million increase over fiscal year 2019. USTR’s budget also includes $15 million for the agency’s Trade Enforcement Trust Fund, the same as fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2018 levels.
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act requires $15 million in mandatory funding for the trust fund, which is used to support activities including enforcement of other countries’ adherence to World Trade Organization rules and free trade agreement provisions, as well as U.S. capacity-building efforts with trade agreement partners.