In a press conference at headquarters yesterday, the senior leaders of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers laid out the details of the FY2020 budget for the Civil Works program. On hand were the Honorable RD James, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works); LTG Todd Semonite, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers; MG Scott Spellmon, Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations; and Joseph Bentz, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget. They were faced with the tough task of defending the Administration’s proposed $4.827 billion budget, a cut of 30% from the current year’s appropriation of nearly $7 billion.
The budget includes $2.3 billion for commercial navigation, $1 billion for flood and storm damage reduction, and $187 million for aquatic ecosystem restoration. The Construction account would receive $1.3 billion, for 9 navigation projects, 5 ecosystem restoration and 4 flood control. Of that amount, $150 million is reserved for projects under Section 1043 of WRRDA 14 wherein local sponsors take responsibility for construction. Implementing guidance for that section is supposed to be released this week, although the statutory authority expires on June 10, 2019. An additional $150 million would be designated for the “Innovative Funding Partnership,” where nonfederal interests pay more than the statutory cost share to jump the line and accelerate completion of projects. If not allocated, that amount presumably could then be designated by Congress in its “funding pots.”
Operations and Maintenance would receive $3.025 billion, including $15 million for inspection of completed Federal flood control projects, $4.5 million for the national levee inventory, and $8.5 million for the review of Section 408 requests.
Investigations would receive $82 million. That includes 14 flood control, 13 navigation and 3 ecosystem restoration projects. The Mississippi River and Tributaries program would receive $215 million. The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund would receive $965 million, while the Inland Waterways Trust Fund would receive only $55 million, funding one project, Locks 2, 3, and 4 on the Monongahela River, to completion.
The proposed budget, receiving an expected “dead on arrival” response from Capitol Hill, will get further scrutiny at upcoming hearings. The House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee will take it up on March 27, while the Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee will meet on April 10.
Details on the Budget can be found at the Corps’ website: