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Monday, September 30, 2013

Army Corps Supplemental Appropriations: Recent History, Trends, and Policy Issues

Charles V. Stern
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Nicole T. Carter
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Under its civil works program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans, builds, operates, and maintains a wide range of water resource facilities. The Corps also plays a prominent role in responding to domestic natural disasters, in particular riverine and coastal flooding. The Corps can assist in flood fighting at the discretion of its Chief of Engineers in order to protect life and property, principally when state resources are overwhelmed. The Corps is also authorized to protect and repair its own facilities in the event of flooding, and to operate a program, the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP), that funds the repair of participating nonfederal flood control works (e.g., levees, dams, dunes) damaged by flooding events. Additionally, the Corps undertakes a variety of other activities at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the National Response Framework, which are outside the scope of this report.

In recent years several natural disasters have required Corps response and repair activities with costs running into the billions. Congress provided most of these funds through supplemental appropriations. From 1987 to 2013, Congress appropriated $32.2 billion in supplemental funding to the Corps. Of this funding, $30.8 billion came through supplemental appropriations acts passed between 2003 and 2013. This funding was more than half of the amount that was provided to the Corps in regular appropriations over this same period ($55 billion).

Of the $30.8 billion, $27.5 billion (89%) was for responding to flooding and other natural disasters, with the majority of this funding related to Hurricane Katrina and the 2005 storm season ($16 billion) and, more recently, Hurricane Sandy’s landfall in 2012 ($5.3 billion). In addition to the disaster funding, Congress provided the Corps with non-disaster related supplemental funds, including $4.6 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) and $39 million for facility security and other expenditures.

Corps natural disaster supplemental appropriations have largely been funded through two Corps accounts: Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE; i.e., flood fighting, repairs to damaged nonfederal flood control projects) and Operations and Maintenance (O&M; i.e., repairs to Corps projects). Nonfederal cost-sharing for FCCE and O&M typically has not been required with some exceptions. Congress also has provided some funding for other Corps accounts, such as Construction and Mississippi Rivers and Tributaries. Local cost-sharing requirements for construction funding in particular have varied. Hurricane Katrina funding generally required local cost-sharing for construction investments, while funding to complete “ongoing” construction (but not new construction) after Hurricane Sandy received a waiver from local cost-sharing requirements.

When faced with natural disaster response costs and proposed supplemental expenditures, Congress may consider whether to provide these funds to the Corps and, if so, how much funding to include and for which Corps accounts and activities. In providing supplemental funding, Congress also may consider associated issues such as whether to maintain standard nonfederal cost-sharing requirements, whether to include reporting and transparency requirements for this funding, and what type of flood damage reduction efforts to support.

Date of Report: September 19, 2013
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R42841
Price: $29.95

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