Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Budget Request: $7.4 Million For Civil Works Program

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works program would receive $7.4 billion as part of President Joe Biden’s $6.8-trillion budget blueprint for fiscal year 2024, which top House Republicans quickly rejected as a reckless call for new spending and taxes.

When asked about the stout opposition the president’s budget faces in the Republican-controlled House, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor conceded those concerns but still managed to strike a positive chord by citing past support for his agency’s work.

“Fortunately, I could say, I think there has been strong broad bipartisan support for the civil works program,” he said during a press conference on the budget.

Connor pointed to the resources provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as well as the last two appropriations bills, “which, quite frankly, were significantly above the president’s budget.” Such bipartisan support could be vital as lawmakers take up the proposed civil works budget, which Connor called “the largest in history.”

In support of the nation’s coastal ports and inland waterways, he said, the administration’s blueprint includes more than $3.2 billion for the study, design, construction and operations and maintenance of inland and coastal navigation projects.

Of that amount, more than $1.7 billion would come from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

Other figures revealed for appropriations accounts:

• $2.6 billion, operations and maintenance. Connor said nearly $1.7 billion will come from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and nearly $154 million from the Mississippi River and Tributaries for another 4.472 billion for operational maintenance program.

• $2 billion, construction.

• $226 million, Mississippi River and Tributaries.

• $129 million, investigations.

• $221 million, regulatory programs.

• $40 million, flood control and coastal emergencies.

• $200 million, FUSRAP (Formerly Utilized Remedial Action Program.)

“The budget is complemented by $1 billion for operation and maintenance and $50 million for construction in 2024 from the Infrastructure and Investment and Jobs Act,” Connor said.

No funds from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund were included in the administration’s proposal.

In response to a question, Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, the commanding general of the Corps and 55th chief of Engineers, described as “massive” the amount of  work and investment on the nation’s inland waterways.

“Certainly it has stretched us,” Spellmon said, ticking off the names of current projects.

“We want to get this work finished before we open up the next round of important projects.”

Users Board To Meet

The Inland Waterways Users Board is scheduled to meet April 13 in Pittsburgh, Pa., on the investments, projects and status of the nation’s inland waterways system.

The online portion of the meeting can be accessed at https://usace1.webex.com/meet/ndc.nav, public call-in: USA Toll-Free 844-800-2712, USA caller paid/international toll: 1-669-234-1177 Access Code: 199 117 3596, Security Code 1234.

The meeting’s agenda includes the status of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund; Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Work Plan funding for navigation and status of the FY 2024 Budget; update on remote lock operations; follow up on low water on the waterways; and updates on inland waterways projects including the Upper Ohio River Navigation (Montgomery Lock), Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program and McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System Three Rivers and 12-foot channel deepening project; and status of construction activities for the Monongahela River Locks and Dams 2, 3, and 4, Chickamauga Lock and the Kentucky Lock project.

For additional information, contact Mark Pointon at 703-428-6438 or Mark.Pointon@usace.army.mil.

TWIC Reader Rule Delay

The Coast Guard posted a reminder that the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) reader rule has been delayed for covered facilities until at least May 8, 2026.

A provision delaying the rule was signed into law December 23 as part of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (H.R. 7776).

The term “covered facilities” means (1) facilities that handle certain dangerous cargoes in bulk and transfer such cargoes from or to a vessel; (2) facilities that handle certain dangerous cargoes in bulk but do not transfer from or to a vessel; and (3) facilities that receive vessels carrying certain dangerous cargoes in bulk but do not transfer it from or to the vessel during the vessel-to-facility interface.

For additional information or to share concerns, contact Coast Guard Office of Port and Facility Compliance at TWIC.HQ@uscg.mil.

Merchant Marine Personnel Committee

The National Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee is scheduled to conduct meetings March 28-30 in New Orleans, La., to discuss issues relating to personnel, including training, qualifications, certification, documentation and fitness of mariners.

Open to the public, the meetings on all three days are set to begin at 9 a.m. CDT at Omni Riverfront Hotel, 701 Convention Center Blvd., New Orleans, La. 70130.

To ensure comments are received before the meetings, they should be submitted by March 21 via the preferred method at www.regulations.gov with docket number USCG-2023-0099.

For alternative methods to submit comments or additional information, contact Megan Johns Henry at 202-372-1255 or megan.c.johns@uscg.mil.

Shipper Advisory Committee

The National Shipper Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet March 30 in Miami, Fla., and online to elect a chair and vice chair, hear updates from subcommittees and possibly vote on recommendations to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) on the ocean freight delivery system.

Open to the public, the in-person meeting is set to begin at 1 p.m. Eastern at the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, 80 SW 8th St., Suite 2400, Miami, FL 33130.

Requests to register for both the in-person and virtual meeting should be submitted to nsac@fmc.gov by 5 p.m. Eastern March 24 with ‘‘REGISTER FOR NSAC MEETING’’ in the subject line.

Early registration is encouraged as limited space will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

A link for the virtual meeting will be distributed in advance of the meeting and at www.fmc.gov.

For additional information, contact Dylan Richmond at 202-523-5810 or drichmond@fmc.gov.

Seaway Regulation And Rules

Under international agreement, the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS) and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) of Canada jointly published and presently administer the St. Lawrence Seaway Regulation and Rules in their respective jurisdictions.

The GLS is including clarifying updates in several categories.

This rule takes effect on March 22.

For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to www.regulations.gov or in person the Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, D.C. 20590-001.

For additional information, contact Carrie Mann Lavigne at 315-764-3200.

Rec Boat CODs

Until expanded online ordering options are available, recreational vessel owners who wish to apply for a multi-year (1-5) Certification of Documentation (COD) may do so by submitting CG-1280, according to the National Vessel Documentation Center.

Payments ($26 per year requested, not to exceed $130 for a five-year COD) may be made by credit card via CG-7042 or check or money order made payable to the Coast Guard with annotated official number and number of years selected in memo line.

CG Design And Engineering Standards Office

The Coast Guard’s Office of Design and Engineering Standards (CG-ENG) has created a centralized email address: CGENG@uscg.mil.

The new email address acts as a “switchboard” and forwards any inquiries or requests to the appropriate CG-ENG member or division.

Still operational as valid options for submissions and requests are the typeapproval@uscg.mil (CG-ENG-3, Systems Engineering Division, and CG-ENG-4, Lifesaving and Fire Safety Division) and hazmatstandards@uscg.mil (CG-ENG-5, Hazardous Materials Division).