Congressional leaders achieved a major accomplishment with yesterday’s passage of the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, which bundles three of the 12 fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills.
According to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) – which welcomed the Congressional passage of the bill – this marks the first time since 2004 that the Energy and Water Development appropriation was passed before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.
“We applaud both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees for their successful efforts to pass this important funding bill before the new fiscal year begins. We very much appreciate the Committees’ leadership for recognizing the nexus between water resources development and economic prosperity” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO.
The Energy and Water Development appropriation funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation program, including deep-draft navigation construction and maintenance.
Having the appropriation enacted will enable the Corps to maximize efficient use of the funds, especially with seasonally restricted dredging events in the first and second quarters of the fiscal year. Enactment eliminates 2019 work being subject to using continuing resolutions, which provide partial funding based on the previous year’s appropriation.
The appropriations bill includes $1.54 billion for Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT)-funded work, which is 91 percent of the estimated fiscal 2018 HMT revenues of $1.687 billion and a 10 percent increase over fiscal 2018 HMT funding of $1.4 billion.
As such, the bill continues the trend of hitting or exceeding the HMT funding targets, set in WRDA 2014, for the fifth year in a row. The bill also increases funding amounts and allows new starts in both the Corps of Engineers’ investigations (studies) and construction accounts.
Furthermore, it funds Donor and Energy Transfer ports at $50 million, the full amount authorized for the program and the amount AAPA requested in its August letter to House and Senate conference committee leaders in support of the Corps’ navigation program funding.