Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chair, I strongly support two important provisions in this bill, included at my request, which provide necessary direction to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This bill withholds Additional Funding for Ongoing Work until the
Corps provides this Committee with an acceptable explanation of their allocation decisions. The accompanying report from the Committee also recommends various national domestic priorities for additional funds, including harbors that support domestic manufacturing. This language will greatly enhance the Corps' ability to ensure that our maritime infrastructure meets the changing needs of our nation.
The Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Water Appropriations bill provides $325 million in additional funding for the Corps to address priority projects throughout the country. When given a similar allocation last year, the Corps disregarded this Committee's directive to establish a rating system of projects to be funded and explain why each project was given priority.
This is unacceptable. I share the concern of the Chairman and many of my colleagues that the Corps must be accountable for their distribution of these extra funds.
Given significant backlogs in many of our nation's ports, these additional funds provide an opportunity for improved maintenance of our water borne infrastructure, which is so crucial for growing our economy and creating jobs.
But it would be irresponsible to provide these dollars without exercising proper oversight to ensure that these funds are spent responsibly.
The Committee report already included direction to the Corps to report to the Committee their decisions regarding the use of these funds, but given the previous disregard for this directive last year, it became necessary to include this directive in the bill itself and establish consequences for the Corps, should it fail to meet this obligation.
Additionally, the report accompanying this bill recommends several priorities for the rating system to be created by the Corps. In particular, I strongly support the inclusion of domestic manufacturing as a component of the economic assessment for determining funding.
The significant backlogs of Corps maintenance activity across the country, especially in the Great Lakes region, greatly reduce the competitiveness of American manufacturing.
In the Great Lakes region, which has long been the heart of manufacturing in the U.S., heavy manufacturers are severely affected by light loading restrictions in our harbors. Bulk commodity shipments, which are essential to heavy manufacturing, are being transported inefficiently, preventing domestic manufacturers in the region from competing with foreign manufacturers.
The directive language in the report establishes this necessary manufacturing-oriented priority in determining which projects are to be funded by the additional funds provided in the bill.
The Corps' work is critical for maintaining critical U.S. maritime infrastructure.
The language in this bill and the accompanying support will ensure that this work meets the needs of our nation.
I appreciate the willingness of the Chairmen and the Ranking Members of both the full Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Water Subcommittee to work with me to include this language. In response to the Army Corps' disregard for Congressional directives during fiscal year 2012, language in this bill demand proper compliance to the Constitutional authority of Congress.