RELEASE:

COCHRAN: MISS. RIVER PROJECT FUNDING SECURED IN SENATE APPROPRIATIONS BILL

Appropriations Committee Approves FY2016 Bill with Funds for Army Corps Flood Control, Dredging Projects, Economic Development Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today reported committee passage of a bill that rejects an administration proposal to cut the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget by 17 percent and instead makes increased funding available for the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project (MR&T).

The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the FY2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill that contains important funding for Army Corps of Engineers projects in Mississippi, the Delta Regional Authority, the Appalachian Regional Commission and other programs. The bill conforms to spending restrictions set by law and the recently-enacted FY2016 budget resolution.

“The resources approved in this appropriations bill for waterways management and flood control represent an effort to ensure public safety and increased commerce for Mississippi and other states in our region,” Cochran said. “I look forward to Senate consideration of this bill, which will support economic development in underserved areas while staying below statutory spending caps.”

The bill provides $330.0 million for MR&T, which is $105 million above the FY2015 enacted level. The bill sets aside $10.9 million for dredging on the Mississippi River, $60.0 million for flood control projects, and $39.0 million for other authorized project purposes. These additional pots of funding are intended for important infrastructure projects that were either underfunded or not funded at all in the President’s FY2016 Budget Request.

Overall, the bill provides $2.5 billion nationally for navigation projects and studies, including $1.2 billion in funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and full use of estimated annual revenues from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to advance American competitiveness and export capabilities. Another $1.4 billion is approved to support flood and storm damage reduction activities, including $310 million for the most critical dam safety improvements.

Important to the Corps Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, the bill provides $22.0 million for research and development performed by the Corps of Engineers. The majority of this research takes place at ERDC.

The FY2016 Energy and Water Development Bill is now available for consideration by the Senate. Highlights in the bill that are of interest to Mississippi include:

Mississippi River and Tributaries Project (MR&T): $330.0 million is included for the MR&T project. Of this funding, $10.9 million is set aside for dredging on the Mississippi River and $60 million is set aside for flood control projects.

Environmental Infrastructure Funding: $60 million was included for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvement projects nationwide. Mississippi has 31 active projects that could potentially benefit from this funding.

Research and Development: $22 million is included for research and development performed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The majority of this research takes place at the Corps Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Department of Energy Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Program: $20 million to support university research in states that have historically received less federal research funding. The University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and Jackson State University, the four research universities in Mississippi, participate in the DOE EPSCoR program.

Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC): $105 million was included for the ARC, an economic development agency focusing on business development, education, and job training in thirteen states from Mississippi to western New York. This funding includes $10 million to support workforce training programs in south central Appalachia, which includes Mississippi.

Delta Regional Authority (DRA): $25 million is included for the DRA, which works to promote economic and community development in the Mississippi Delta region. This is the highest funding level for the DRA since its authorization in 2000.

5/21/15