Appropriations Committee Passes Fiscal Year 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

On June 26th The Full Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representative passed legislation providing annual funding for fiscal year 2014 for the national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, various programs under the Department of Energy, and other related agencies.   The bill totals $30.4 billion – a cut of $2.9 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and a reduction of $4.1 billion compared to the President’s request. This level is approximately $700 million below the level caused by sequestration for these programs.  The Army Corps of Engineers is funded at $4.9 billion, a decrease of $104 million, 2% below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and $50 million above the President’s budget request.

The bill focuses funding on navigation and flood control activities that will have an immediate impact on job creation and the economy, and ensure our waterways remain open. Within the total, the bill provides $285 million for essential flood control and navigation projects, which the Corps will prioritize. This funding will help address navigation and flood control needs across the country, while improving transparency and maintaining Congressional authority over budget decisions.

The legislation also advances American competitiveness and export ability by providing $2 billion for navigation projects and studies, including $1 billion in funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The bill supports public health and safety by funding flood and storm damage reduction activities at $1.4 billion – including $274 million for the most critical dam safety improvements.

Why is this important – The bill provides the funding for critical navigation projects, improvements to the inland waterway system, and flood control projects.  It also provides the funding for the Army Corps of Engineers permitting process under the Clean Water Act, The Rivers and Harbors Act and several other statutes.    An adequate and fiscally responsible level of funding for the Corps of Engineers is essential to maintaining the economic vitality of the nation.  We will have to see if this bill meets the that test when it is finally enacted.