Congress passed a Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 appropriations bill – which the president is expected to sign into law – that increases military construction spending by 2.4 percent, and boosts Corps of Engineers funding 11 percent, the most Congress has ever appropriated to the agency, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).
The bill provides a total of $10.3 billion for projects through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC); hospital, medical clinic and cemetery projects through the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA); and harbor maintenance, lock, dam, levee and environmental restoration projects through the USACE Civil Works Program.
The FY 2019 appropriation funds construction, operation and maintenance of military family housing at $1.6 billion; $173 million above FY 2018 and the same as the president’s FY 2019 budget request.
Major and minor construction within the VA is funded at $1.8 billion. In addition, $2 billion is provided for infrastructure repair, with the funding allocated to major and minor construction and non-recurring maintenance. Within the infrastructure total funding, $750 million is targeted to seismic corrections at VA facilities nationwide.
The total USACE Civil Works Program is funded at $7 billion, an 11 percent increase over last year and the highest ever Congress has appropriated to the agency. The Construction account receives $2.18 billion, and the Operations & Maintenance account received a record-level of $3.74 billion, which includes $1.55 billion in funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and full use of estimated annual revenues ($326.5 million) from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.
In addition, lawmakers pushed back on President Trump’s efforts to move the USACE Civil Works Program out of the Department of Defense and moved into the Department of Transportation (navigation) and Department of Interior (flood control and environmental restoration), part of a broader reorganization of executive agencies announced earlier this year. In a joint statement, members of Congress stated that no funds could be used to reorganize the agency.
AGC applauded the passage of the appropriation bills. AGC said it firmly believes passing appropriations bills in a timely fashion helps provide federal agencies and, in turn, federal construction contractors with financial and operational certainty that helps them with the planning and execution of infrastructure projects.