The House of Representatives passed its Fiscal Year 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill on Friday, significantly increasing funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and programs that support and maintain waterways functions that are priorities for the American Soybean Association (ASA).
“Soybean farmers commend the House for its leadership and for placing a priority on funding to support our waterways transportation network,” said ASA President Wade Cowan, a soybean farmer from Brownfield, Texas. “The waterways and ports are vital to the efficient transportation of soybeans and other major commodities and a key factor in maintaining competitiveness for U.S. soybeans in global export markets.”
Within the Corps of Engineers Construction account, the bill provides $340 million from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund for priority navigation projects, which utilizes all the revenues received into the trust fund, including increased revenues resulting from the barge fuel fee increase enacted by Congress in 2014.
For the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), the committee’s appropriation of $1.178 billion was amended on the floor to increase the level to $1.25 billion, which is $150 million or 14% higher than last year’s $1.1 billion, and well above the $915 million than the Administration requested from the HMTF.
The Corps’ Operations & Maintenance (O&M) account funding level is $3.094 billion, the highest ever appropriated to this account in an annual appropriation bill, and the third consecutive year of record-level O&M funding. It is nearly $390 million higher than the Administration’s FY16 requested level.
While the bill has passed the House, the Senate must still act on a bill and it could face a potential veto by President Barack Obama. The White House has issued a statement indicating that the president’s advisors would recommend that he veto the bill in its current form citing reductions to certain energy programs that are priorities for the Obama Administration.