Senate Passes Funding For Waterways and Ports

File image courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Published May 12, 2016 8:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed the FY2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill by a wide margin of 90 to eight. It is the first appropriations legislation to pass the Senate this year, and it incorporates $6 billion in funding for the Civil Works Program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency charged with maintenance and improvements to navigable waterways. 

For ports, the bill includes $1.3 billion for Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund work, more than last year and about ten percent higher than the target established under previous legislation. The House version of the bill is awaiting floor action, after which the legislation will be reconciled in conference and sent to the president for signature. 

“This is extremely important legislation that will aid our economy and environment, and the ability of America’s ports to handle increasingly larger cargo and passenger ships,” said American Association of Port Authorities President and CEO Kurt Nagle. “It reflects substantial advocacy by AAPA and our member seaports to appropriate crucial funding to maintain and improve our nation’s navigation infrastructure and provide more donor equity. We now look to the House leadership to bring this bipartisan bill to the House floor for a vote soon."

In addition to harbor provisions, funding for the Corps of Engineers' operations & maintenance account was set at a record $3.2 billion, almost half a billion dollars above the administration's request. Its construction account was funded at $1.8 billion, up by more than $700 million.  

 “Strong, effective leadership was demonstrated today in negotiating and passing this important appropriations bill that offers record funding to modernize our Nation’s inland waterways transportation system.  Recapitalizing this critical link in the transportation supply chain enables the U.S. to be prepared for expected export growth,” said Waterways Council (WCI) President Michael J. Toohey.