First time since 2004 an E&WD appropriation bill has passed before the new fiscal year
Congressional leaders achieved a major accomplishment with today’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. 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.
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) – the unified and recognized voice of America’s seaports – is pleased to see Congressional passage of this bill.
“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. “Federal investments in navigation-related infrastructure are an essential and effective utilization of limited resources, paying dividends through increased trade and international competitiveness, sustainable job creation and more than $320 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues.”
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.
Cargo activities at America’s seaports are significant drivers of the U.S. economy, supporting more than 23 million American jobs and generating over $320 billion in annual federal, state and local taxes. All but 1 percent of the nation’s overseas trade moves through its maritime facilities, and U.S. seaport cargo activities account for more than one-quarter of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.