May 17, 2019: Legislative Updates

May 17, 2019: Legislative Updates

From the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation:

During Executive Session on May15: The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, passed S. 1439, Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act for Fiscal Year 2020, Sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

The bill reauthorizes activities of the Maritime Administration including (but not limited to) the Port Operations, Research, and Technology Act (aka Ports Improvement Act), which authorizes, $600,000,000 (subject to appropriations) to the Secretary of Transportation to make grants, on a competitive  basis, to eligible applicants to assist in funding eligible projects for the purpose of improving the safety,  efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods through ports and intermodal connections to ports.

Of the $600,000,000, 25% of funds are set aside for small projects, being defined as less than $11,000,000.

Additionally, the bill authorizes $40,000,000 for small shipyards and maritime training programs

Full bill text can be found here:

From the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee:

Upcoming Hearings:

Tuesday, May 21 at 10:00 am Eastern: Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Hearing: “Review of Fiscal Year 2020 Budget for the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Programs”

May 22 at 10:00 am Eastern: Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Hearing: “Policies, Recommendations, and Impacts of the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request”

All hearings can be watched live at:

From the National Waterways Conference:

FY20 House Energy and Water bill

The House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee approved record-level fiscal year 2020 funding of $7.36 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program. The measure would increase current levels by nearly $360 million, rejecting the 30% cut proposed by the Administration.

Construction would be funded at $2.34 billion, including six new starts. Operation and Maintenance would receive $3.92 billion. Investigations would receive $135 million, with a direction for six new starts. The Mississippi River and Tributaries account would receive $350 million. Spending from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund would be $1.697 billion, $100 million more than the target set in WRRDA 14. The bill also directs full utilization of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

The bill would prohibit any funds from being used to reorganize or transfer the Civil Works division out of the agency. In addition, the bill prohibits funds from being diverted to build the border wall with Mexico.

Full committee consideration of the bill is expected next week, at which time members have the opportunity to offer amendments. While the initial numbers look promising, what happens on the House floor is unclear, as is Senate action. The Congress and the White House have not reached any budget agreement, without which automatic sequestration cuts will kick in on October 1st. That sentiment was echoed by the Senate, where action on the funding bills appears not to have started yet with much earnest.

Additional information, including a link to the bill text, can be viewed here: