Update: Waterways Infrastructure

Oct 31, 2019

Senate floor consideration of the Fiscal Year 2020 Energy & Water Appropriations bill is currently stalled amid the larger partisan standoff on the overall appropriations process. The House Energy & Water bill and the Senate Committee approved version both include significant increases in funding for inland waterways projects.

On the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) front, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee has a November 1 deadline for non-Committee Members to submit priorities for inclusion in the bill next year.

ASA’s priority for WRDA 2020 is to shift the cost-share ratio for Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) projects from the current 50-50 to 85-15 or 75-25 to further accelerate completion of much needed upgrades to locks and dams. This priority has been communicated to congressional offices and a number of Senators have indicated their intent to include the cost-share change among their priority requests.

Related to WRDA 2020, a hearing was held in the Senate EPW Committee last on Oct. 23 titled, “Improving American Economic Competitiveness Through Water Resources Infrastructure,” that featured testimony from the Army Civil Works Division. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) raised the importance of addressing inland waterways infrastructure at the hearing.

On Oct. 28, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2440 to ensure all Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) revenues will go to their intended uses. The legislation, which would wall-off HMTF revenues so that they are used only for port and harbor maintenance, passed by a bipartisan vote of 296 to 109.

ASA supports this policy and Congress has been gradually increasing the amount of HMTF dollars used for intended purposes following an agreement in the 2014 WRDA. The prospects for HR 2440 getting passed by the Senate and enacted into law are still uncertain.