Army Corps of Engineers: FY2021 Appropriations

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Updated May 28, 2020
Army Corps of Engineers: FY2021 Appropriations
Congress generally funds the civil works activities of the
new construction projects and six new studies. The FY2021
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in annual Energy
request also seeks to limit funding to ongoing navigation
and Water Development appropriations acts. These
and flood risk reduction construction projects with benefit-
activities include the planning and construction of
cost ratios (BCRs) greater than 2.5 to 1 (i.e., benefits are at
authorized water resource projects and the operation and
least two and a half times project costs) or to projects that
maintenance of infrastructure and navigation improvements
address safety concerns.
managed by USACE (e.g., navigation channels). For
USACE civil works, President Trump requested $5.97
Figure 2. USACE Account Funding, FY2016-FY2020
billion for FY2021. As shown in Figure 1, Congress
and FY2021 Request
typically funds USACE above the President’s request. At
(nominal $, in billions)
times, Congress also provides USACE with supplemental
appropriations, typically for flood response and recovery
(see CRS In Focus IF11435, Supplemental Appropriations
for Army Corps Flood Response and Recovery
).
Figure 1. Annual USACE Funding, FY2007-FY2021
(nominal $, in billions)

Source: CRS.
Notes: Req = Budget request. ASA = Assistant Secretary of the
Army. Regulatory = Regulatory Program. FUSRAP = Formerly

Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program. FY2021 request renews a
Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS).
proposal to transfer FUSRAP to the Department of Energy. FY2021
USACE Funding and FY2021 Request
request renews a proposal to fund certain expenses directly from
two navigation trust funds; the figure shows funding for FY2021 based
Unlike many of the federal agencies that support
on funding from traditional USACE accounts.
infrastructure investments by distributing federal funds to
nonfederal entities by formula or through competitive grant
Since the 112th Congress, moratorium policies have limited
programs, USACE directly commits funds for project
congressionally directed funding of site-specific projects
planning and construction. It uses most of its appropriations
(i.e., earmarks). Prior to the 112th Congress, Congress
for work on specific studies and projects authorized by
would direct funds to specific projects not in the budget
Congress. These activities are often cost shared with
request or increase funds for certain projects. Each year
nonfederal project sponsors or users.
since FY2011, Congress has appropriated additional
funding
for categories of USACE work without identifying
The President’s FY2021 budget request prioritizes
specific projects. For example, in FY2020, Congress
maintaining the performance of existing infrastructure, as
provided $2.53 billion in additional funding for 26
reflected by the share of funds requested for operations and
categories of USACE activities (e.g., construction of flood
maintenance (i.e., the O&M account; see Figure 2), and
and storm damage reduction). After congressional
completing ongoing construction projects (i.e., the
enactment of the appropriations legislation and
Construction account). The request would initiate no new
accompanying report language on priorities and other
studies or construction projects (referred to as new starts).
guidance for use of the additional funding, the
In response to budget requests with no new starts in recent
Administration develops a work plan that reports on (1) the
years, Congress has required USACE to start a specified
selected new start studies and construction projects and (2)
number of new construction projects and new studies. For
the specific projects receiving additional funds.
example, in FY2020, Congress appropriated funds for six
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Selected FY2021 Topics
Table 1. Selected USACE Project Investments
Inland Waterway Funding

FY2020
FY2021 Request
The Inland Waterway Trust Fund (IWTF) receives
collections from a $0.29 per gallon fuel tax on commercial
Inland
$1.277 B, of which
$785 M, of which
vessels on designated federal waterways. Since 1986,
Waterway
$131 M from IWTF
$0 from IWTF
Congress generally has required that construction and major
Coastal
$2.719 B, of which
$1.624 B, of which
rehabilitation for inland waterways be paid for 50% from
Navigation
$1.6 B from HMTF
$1.015 B from HMTF
the General Fund and 50% from the IWTF. Since FY2014,
Congress has reduced the IWTF-required portion of funds
Ecosystem
$593 M, of which
$350 M, of which
for certain projects, thereby increasing the funds that come
Restoration
$249 M for Everglades $260 M for Everglades
from the General Fund for inland waterway construction by
Flood Risk
$1.632 B
$1.622 B
more than $400 million. Of the $1.277 billion of USACE
Reduction
work on waterways in FY2020, $392 million is for
construction, of which $131 million is from the IWTF (see
Source: CRS using various USACE sources and correspondence
Table 1). The IWTF’s balance is estimated to be $55
with USACE, as well as the FY2021 budget request. Amounts include
million at the end of FY2020. IWTF receipts and interest in
funds from all USACE accounts. Amounts do not include
FY2021 are estimated at $114 million. The FY2021 request
supplemental appropriations.
includes a proposal to apply an annual user fee on inland
waterway commercial vessels. The fee would collect an
Notes: B = billion. M = million. IWTF = Inland Waterway Trust
estimated $180 million annually to be used for a portion of
Fund. HMTF = Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
waterway construction and for 10% of waterway O&M.
The FY2021 request did not include continued funding for
Continuing Authorities Programs
ongoing waterway construction projects.
In FY2020, Congress is funding nine Continuing
Authorities Programs (CAPs), at a total of $71.5 million,
Coastal Navigation and Harbor Funding
for USACE to plan and construct projects of limited scope
The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) receives the
and cost. The President’s FY2021 request is $4 million for
collections from the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT),
four CAPs, and no funds are requested for five CAPs
which is applied principally to imported and domestic
funded in FY2020 (see CRS In Focus IF11106, Army Corps
waterborne cargo at coastal and Great Lakes ports.
of Engineers: Continuing Authorities Programs).
Congress has authorized that HMTF monies pay for certain
coastal navigation and harbor O&M activities. In FY2020,
Backlog and Alternative Financing and Delivery
the HMTF is funding more than half of USACE coastal
A persistent challenge for USACE is how to address its
navigation costs (see Table 1). Individual ports also act as
backlog of roughly $96 billion in authorized USACE
nonfederal sponsors for projects and contribute to the cost
construction activities. Nonfederal project sponsors and
of constructing most navigation channel improvements. The
federal policymakers are exploring options for project
HMTF is anticipated to have a $10 billion balance at the
financing and for sharing costs and responsibilities among
end of FY2020. In most years since the early 1990s, annual
project sponsors and beneficiaries. Congress has authorized
HMT collections and interest on the HMTF balance
enhanced nonfederal and private participation in USACE
exceeded annual spending on HMTF-eligible activities.
projects. Congress expanded authorities to reimburse or
HMTF collections and interest in FY2021 are estimated at
credit nonfederal work on authorized projects. In addition
$1.91 billion; therefore, HMTF revenues in FY2021 are
to post-construction reimbursement, Congress in 2014
almost $0.9 billion above the President’s request for
authorized transferring USACE funds to nonfederal entities
FY2021 HMTF-eligible activities. Pursuant to P.L. 116-
for use on the construction of authorized projects. The
136, starting no later than January 2021, use of some
FY2021 request proposes to use $250 million for these
HMTF funds is not counted toward annual budget caps.
transfers, and it proposes using $250 million to accelerate
construction projects that have excess or advanced funding
Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Risk Reduction
by nonfederal entities. Congress has directed USACE to
USACE ecosystem restoration and flood risk reduction
develop the structure for its Water Infrastructure Finance
projects generally have their construction costs shared 65%
and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, which would
federal and 35% nonfederal, and costs of O&M, routine
provide loans and loan guarantees to water resource
repair, and rehabilitation are 100% nonfederal. For some
projects. The Administration’s FY2021 request would not
projects, Congress has used different cost-sharing
fund USACE to implement its WIFIA program (see CRS In
arrangements. For example, most Everglades restoration
Focus IF11193, WIFIA Program: Background and Recent
construction and O&M projects are cost shared 50%/50%.
Developments). For more on the USACE appropriations
For FY2021, the President requests $350 million for
process and related issues, see CRS Report R46320, U.S.
USACE aquatic ecosystem restoration efforts, of which
Army Corps of Engineers: Annual Appropriations Process
$260 million is for Everglades restoration (see Table 1). In
and Issues for Congress.
FY2020, USACE’s Everglades activities totaled $249
million (42% of the total USACE restoration funding for
Anna E. Normand, Analyst in Natural Resources Policy
FY2020). The FY2021 request for flood risk reduction is
Nicole T. Carter, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
$1.6 billion (up from $1.0 billion in the FY2020 request), of
which $0.8 billion is requested for construction of eight
IF11462
riverine flood risk reduction projects.
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Army Corps of Engineers: FY2021 Appropriations


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