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Biden budget plan would slash Army Corps – again

March 11, 2024   Energy & Environment News

E&E NEWS PM | The Biden administration proposed a 17 percent cut to the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for its water resources work, reserving funding for projects with the biggest payoffs for climate resiliency, public safety, the environment and the economy.


The $7.2 billion budget request for fiscal 2025 follows a long tradition of presidential administrations proposing cuts for the popular agency to offset spending requests for policy priorities elsewhere in the budget, knowing that lawmakers are all but certain to increase funding.


But this year's presidential budget request is even more of a messaging exercise than usual. Congress and the White House only just last week agreed to appropriations measures funding the government through the end of fiscal 2024. There's virtually no chance they'll reach agreement on funding again before the presidential election in November.


The budget blueprint calls for $930 million for operations and maintenance work along the country's system of locks and dams, and $1.7 billion for work to maintain and deepen coastal ports — a major cut from the $2.8 billion that the bipartisan fiscal 2024 budget agreement spends for such work out of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.


The budget documents call out investments in ecosystem restoration projects, including $444 million for work in Florida's Everglades and $145 million for efforts to recover salmon fisheries in the Columbia River Basin — work that's part of a controversial $1 billion agreement with states and tribes that would largely be funded using Inflation Reduction Act programs.


The Biden administration also nodded to fallout from last year's Supreme Court decision vastly restricting federal authority over streams and wetlands, requesting a modest $13 million for small projects to restore wetlands that "may be negatively impacted" by the ruling in Sackett v. EPA.