The House and Senate leadership released the FY 2017 Omnibus Funding Agreement that includes increased or level funding for key AAPA priorities for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) and Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants. AAPA’s efforts with coalition partners paid off with increases for the Corps and DERA, and level funding for TIGER and PSGP. The agreement also continues funding for the Food for Peace program and the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Marine Highway Program, both of which AAPA supports. Congress is expected to pass the Omnibus this week.
Corps of Engineers – Overall, Corps funding increased to $6.038 billion, an increase of $49 million above the FY 2016 enacted level, and $1.418 billion above the President’s budget request. The agreement includes $2.66 billion for navigation projects and studies. Congress appropriated $1.301 billion for Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund work, a three percent increase over the $1.26 billion appropriation for FY 2016 and significantly more than the President’s FY 2017 budget request of $951 million. The three percent increase follows the change in the authorization target levels obtained by AAPA in last year’s Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act to ensure progress would continue towards full use. Without that revised target, the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) funding could have decreased for the year. The agreement also provides $28 million for the Donor and Energy Transfer Ports Program (this is $3 million more than last year, but still less than the $50 million authorized for the program and called for by AAPA).
AAPA appreciates Congress providing more than $632.07 million in programmatic funds above the President’s budget request for the Corps Coastal Navigation Program. Account level details for these additions are as follows:
• Investigations – $5 million, including up to five new study starts
• Construction – $211.2 million, including up to six new construction starts
• Navigation Operation and Maintenance – $415.87 million, of which $332.68 million is estimated for coastal navigation, consisting of:
• Navigation Maintenance – $12.18 million
• Deep Draft – $268 million
• Donor and Energy Transfer Ports – $28 million
• Small, Remote Ports – $24.5 million
The accompanying Manager’s Statement and Tables provides project specific funding and additional details.
Once enacted, the Corps will have 45 days to publish its Work Plan, which distributes the programmatic funds to specific navigation projects. Ports are encouraged to make their needs known to the Corps. Thanks to all the ports who reached out to their Congressional offices to make HMT-related funding a priority. We will continue the Hit the HMT Target Campaign in 2018.
DOT TIGER Grants – TIGER will receive $500 million for FY 2017, which is the same level of funding it received in FY 2016. President Trump proposed eliminating the program, so level funding is good news. AAPA will let ports know when the application period opens for these grants. Individual grants this year will not be less than $5 million and no greater than $25 million, and no state shall receive more than 10 percent of the available funding. Last year, projects ranged from $10 million to $100 million, and no more than 20 percent of the funding could go to a single state.
MARAD – The final agreement also includes $5 million for MARAD’s Marine Highway Program to help mitigate landside congestion. This is the same level as last year.
DHS Port Security Grants –The final agreement includes $100 million in funding for PSGP. This is the same level as FY 2016. AAPA expects the funding notice for PSGP to be released soon. AAPA will convene a webinar with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the grant submission timeline in mid-May. The agreement is silent on whether the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could block funding to sanctuary cities. Recently, a federal court halted implementation of President Trump’s executive order blocking funding to sanctuary cities. The Washington Post reported that the court’s decision cited a lack of Congressional direction.
EPA DERA Grants – The Congressional budget agreement increases funding to $60 million in FY 2017 from $50 million in FY 2016. Overall, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget was only cut one percent, in contrast to President Trump’s call for a large reduction in the agency’s workforce and programs.
Food for Peace – The bill provides funding at $1.466 billion, with a one-time $134 million increase for famine crises, and $202 million for the McGovern-Dole program for the remainder of FY 2017. AAPA has signed coalition letters in support of this program. These programs send U.S. agricultural products overseas and are sent through seaports.
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