Kaptur Holds Hearing on Trump Budget Request for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation

March 27, 2019
Press Release
The Trump budget cuts funding for the Army Corps by 31% and funding for the Bureau of Reclamation by 28%

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, held a Subcommittee hearing on the Trump Administration’s fiscal year 2020 budget request for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation. The Trump budget cuts funding for the Army Corps by 31% and funding for the Bureau of Reclamation by 28%. Chairwoman Kaptur strongly opposes these proposed cuts.

 

Rep. Kaptur Opening Statement As Prepared For Delivery

 

The Subcommittee will come to order. 

 

Assistant Secretary James, General Semonite, Assistant Secretary Petty, and Commissioner Burman, thank you for being here today.

 

I also want to welcome the Corps Division Commanders. The work you do is of critical importance to the nation. We all thank you for your patriotic service.

 

We are here today to discuss the fiscal year 2020 budget request for the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation.  These agencies play a vital role in the management and development of one of our most precious resources: water.  Your agencies have been under pressure over significant flooding—especially high rainfalls—and other extreme weather events. I know you make difficult choices regularly, and we appreciate your leadership.

 

We are pressing for action on the disaster supplemental that passed the House in January, which contains funding for both agencies to address recent hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters. And I am sure more will be necessary to address the recent flooding in the Midwest.

 

The water resource needs of our country vary from region to region, but all corners of our nation require investments in this essential infrastructure.  The Corps and Bureau support critical navigation and irrigation projects that enable farmers and manufacturers to bring their goods to market.  Flood control projects protect our citizens, property and livelihoods.  And ecosystem restoration projects protect and restore the environment. 

 

Unfortunately, the budget request is woefully inadequate to address the challenges before us.  It slashes funding for the Corps and Bureau by nearly a third each from 2019 levels.  At a time when we should be investing in water infrastructure improvements, this budget moves us in the wrong direction.

 

Examples of the variability of our country’s water infrastructure needs include:

 

  • In the Great Lakes region, extreme rain events exacerbate nutrient runoff problems and cause massive algal blooms in Lake Erie, threatening fresh water supplies to millions of people. 
  • In the West, despite recent above-average rainfall, drought recovery efforts are ongoing, and water challenges continue.
  • Many states and territories are still recovering from devastating hurricanes and typhoons. 
  • Sadly, right now, Midwest states are experiencing historic flooding caused by snowmelt and increased rainfall, and NOAA is predicting that 25 states are at elevated risk of historic flooding this spring.

 

It is an understatement to say that this request simply does not address these critical needs.

 

There are some bright spots—I was pleased with the inclusion of $75 million for the vital Soo Lock.  This long-awaited update will keep critical cargo moving in the face of an unexpected outage.

 

However, I was disheartened to see this request—yet again—does not respond to certain important needs of the Great Lakes region.  Your budget abdicates responsibility to the people of the Great Lakes region. Asian carp is one of the greatest threats to the multibillion-dollar Great Lakes fishery, yet your budget provides no funding to move forward on a project to keep carp out of the Lakes.  Furthermore, the Corps is an important partner in inter-agency efforts to control the carp, and this request again slashes that funding.

 

The agencies with us today were created to address the unique water resource challenges across our country. This must include the need to incorporate resiliency into projects, and to address a changing climate that is producing more severe and frequent weather events.  However, the administration’s budget is simply inadequate to make investments in robust, resilient water infrastructure that we so desperately need. 

 

Nevertheless, the Subcommittee recognizes and appreciates the importance of your work. Thank you for being here, and we look forward to hearing from you.

 

Notable Decreases

 

  • Corps of Engineers – Requested at $4.827 billion, $2.17 billion (31%) below 2019. The request does not include new project starts.
    • Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) is requested at $965 million, $585 million (38%) below FY 2019.
  • Bureau of Reclamation – Requested at $1.11 billion, $445 million (28%) below 2019.

 

Witnesses

 

The Honorable R.D. James
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works

United States Army

 

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite

Commanding General and Chief of Engineers

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

 

The Honorable Dr. Timothy Petty

Assistant Secretary for Water and Science

Department of the Interior

 

Brenda Burman

Commissioner

Bureau of Reclamation

 

Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4daiQFID58I

 

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kaptur.house.gov