The bill represents record funding for USACE waterways infrastructure-related funding.
The bill also prohibits the use of funds to implement the controversial Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that expands the government’s jurisdiction on waterways, which the American Soybean Association (ASA) strongly opposes. This WOTUS “policy rider” will likely be a source of contention as the bill moves through the process.
The overall funding level provided in the bill for the USACE is $6.1 billion, $1.48 billion above the president’s fiscal year 2017 request and $100 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. The construction account would receive $1.946 billion, $855.6 million more than the fiscal year 2017 president’s request. The bill calls for full use of estimated annual revenues from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) to “help advance American competitiveness and export ability.”
Operations and Maintenance (O&M) received a record $3.157 billion, $452 million more than President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2017 request and above the fiscal year 2016 O&M funding level of $3.137 billion, which was the highest ever appropriated to this account. The bill also proposes a record $1.263 billion spending from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), also breaking the record of $1.178 billion provided in fiscal year 2016.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is also preparing to release its Energy & Water bill, which is expected to provide robust support for waterways infrastructure. These are the first steps in the annual appropriations process that will likely stretch to the end of the year, the ASA said.