U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, has reported committee passage of a bill that rejects an administration proposal to cut the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget by 17 percent and instead makes increased funding available for the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project (MR&T).
The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved the FY2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill that contains important funding for Army Corps of Engineers projects in Mississippi, the Delta Regional Authority, the Appalachian Regional Commission and other programs. The bill conforms to spending restrictions set by law and the recently-enacted FY2016 budget resolution.
“The resources approved in this appropriations bill for waterways management and flood control represent an effort to ensure public safety and increased commerce for Mississippi and other states in our region,” Cochran said.
The bill provides $330.0 million for MR&T, which is $105 million above the FY2015 enacted level. The bill sets aside $10.9 million for dredging on the Mississippi River, $60.0 million for flood control projects, and $39.0 million for other authorized project purposes.
These additional pots of funding are intended for important infrastructure projects that were either underfunded or not funded at all in the President’s FY2016 Budget Request.
Overall, the bill provides $2.5 billion nationally for navigation projects and studies, including $1.2 billion in funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and full use of estimated annual revenues from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to advance American competitiveness and export capabilities.
Another $1.4 billion is approved to support flood and storm damage reduction activities, including $310 million for the most critical dam safety improvements.
Important to the Corps Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, the bill provides $22.0 million for research and development performed by the Corps of Engineers. The majority of this research takes place at ERDC.
The FY2016 Energy and Water Development Bill is now available for consideration by the Senate.