Budget would slash Army Corps funds

President Trump today proposed cutting the budget of the military arm tasked with flood control and emergency response by nearly a third.

The administration's fiscal 2020 budget blueprint would appropriate $4.8 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers, one of the federal government's largest water infrastructure managers.

That would represent a more than 30 percent cut from existing spending levels of $7 billion (E&E News PM, Sept. 10, 2018).

But the proposal is in line with the administration's priorities from last year. The fiscal 2019 budget proposed $4.6 billion for the Army Corps (E&E News PM, Feb. 12, 2018).

The administration today emphasized that its proposal would shift the framework in order to make infrastructure investment by states and private parties more flexible.

"The current paradigm for investing in water resources development is not optimal," the administration said. "It can deter rather than enable local communities, states and the private sector from making important investments on their own, even when they are the primary beneficiaries."

The administration said its proposed policies would accelerate the development of water delivery projects while "increasing competition."

To that end, it would include $150 million for "innovative partnerships" between the Army Corps and nonfederal partners.

Still, the stated goal was to shift focus to maintaining and operating existing infrastructure.

Other proposals in the budget included reforming inland waterway fees for commercial users and selling the Washington Aqueduct, which provides water to Washington, D.C.; Arlington County, Va.; Falls Church, Va.; and parts of Fairfax County, Va. It is the only local water supply system in the country wholly owned by the Army Corps.