Jun 17, 2009

Senate, House Panels to Review Army Corps Budget Plan

White House budget would cut agency’s funding by 5.4%

House and Senate panels are examining proposed budget cuts for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, E&E Daily reported.

A June 11 briefing memo from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment said, "The [Obama] administration's FY 2010 budget request continues to underfund the corps' capability to undertake future water resources projects by including little funding for projects that have completed the feasibility study phase and are ready for preconstruction, engineering and design."

The corps currently has a $61-billion project backlog. The president's budget would cut the agency's funding by 5.4% to $5.1 billion, with the largest cuts to the investigations and construction line items. The investigations budget would drop from $168 million to $100 million, and construction funding would drop from $2 billion in fiscal 2009 to $1.6 billion.

According to the briefing memo, more than 240 corps projects are in some phase of construction in a typical year, and the president's budget request contains funding for 86.

Corps staffing levels at district offices could also be affected, because those salaries come from project funds, according to the memo.

Other proposed cuts under the White House plan include funding for flood-damage reduction projects in the Mississippi River Valley and spending on contamination cleanup from early atomic energy work.

Some programs would gain in the plan: Maintenance funding would rise from $2.2 billion to $2.5 billion. Channel and harbor maintenance would get a $100 million more, and cash for locks and dams maintenance would rise from $400 million to $580 million. Reservoir maintenance would receive an extra $150 million.

And while the budget would cut overall corps funding, the agency already has received $4.6 billion for water projects in the economic stimulus package.