FY 2018 SENATE ENERGY & WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE APPROVES STRONG CORPS’ FUNDING, RECOMMENDS FULL-USE OF INLAND WATERWAYS TRUST FUND

The approval today of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill was praised by Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI).  The bill provides annual funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Energy (DOE) programs, national defense and nuclear weapons activities, and other related agencies.

“This legislation approved today by the full Senate Appropriations Committee contains record levels of funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to improve our nation’s water infrastructure, the Office of Science, which conducts basic science and energy research, and ARPA-E, which supports transformational, high-impact energy technologies,” said U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.  “Senator Feinstein and I have worked together under very challenging fiscal constraints this year the same way we always have — in a fair and accommodating manner — with the goal of drafting a bipartisan bill that prioritizes spending and reduces waste.  We hope this bill can be one of the first appropriations bills considered by the full Senate this year,” he continued.

The Corps’ overall funding level in the Senate bill is $6.2 billion, $190 million above the FY17 enacted level and $1.2 billion above the President’s budget request.  The bill provides full-use of estimated annual revenues from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) for the fourth consecutive year that could fund the top four priority projects (Olmsted, Lower Mon, Kentucky and Chickamauga) if the Administration allocates funding in the Corps’ FY18 work plan.  The President’s FY18 budget requested appropriations only for Olmsted at $175 million.

No account-level specifics have yet been provided, but WCI will apprise its members when they are available.

The bill also hits the WRDA-set Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund target again at $1.3 billion.

Also provided was $700 million above the President’s budget request for construction of river and harbor, flood storm damage reduction, shore protection, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and related projects authorized by law.

In a late-breaking Manager’s Amendment, the Committee agreed to a provision authored by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) which calls for a notice to be published in the Federal Register allowing for public comment on the interim report relating to the Tentatively Selected Plan for the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Brandon Road Study within 30 days of enactment of the Senate E&WD Appropriations bill.

WCI applauded the bi-partisan leadership of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Senate Energy & Water Development (E&WD) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that resulted in this strong funding bill.

The bill next heads to the floor for final action by the full Senate.