Hearing on the Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee - Budget Hearing - United States Army Corps of Engineers

By:  Rodney Frelinghuysen
Date: Feb. 27, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

The hearing will come to order.

I'd like to welcome our witnesses, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy and Chief of Engineers Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick. It's good to see you again, Madam Secretary. General Bostick, welcome to your first appearance before this subcommittee. I'd like to thank both of you, and the many men and women in uniform and in civilian positions who work for you, for your service and dedication to our nation, both here and abroad.

This time of year, we talk about the President's budget request, but, unfortunately, we don't yet have one for 2014, nor have we been given any indication of exactly when we might see it.

That delay -- simply increases the chances of being forced into another Continuing Resolution. None of us on this panel want to see another CR in fiscal year 2014. Frankly, we don't want to see a full-year CR for fiscal year 2013, although that seems the likely outcome.

CRs reduce the ability of Congress to oversee the use of taxpayer dollars.

We have plenty of other topics to discuss today, including the impacts of a full-year CR and sequestration in fiscal year 2013. We also may touch on how Corps efforts on Sandy recovery are going, but will save most of that discussion for a later hearing.

The projects and activities of the Corps of Engineers are necessary for a robust and thriving economy. Navigation projects provide an efficient and cost-effective way of moving goods and resources to and from the global marketplace. Flood protection projects reduce our vulnerability to storms, saving lives and reducing the costs of recovery for individuals and businesses -- and the federal government.

We must figure out how to address these most critical infrastructure needs as efficiently as possible in light of less funding likely to be available in the coming years. Once sequestration is implemented, Corps of Engineers programs for fiscal year 2013 will be reduced to little more than $4.7 billion, a program level we haven't seen in many years. Under the non-defense discretionary caps in the Budget Control Act, next year will be even bleaker.

All this comes when we see extreme weather events -- like superstorms, hurricanes, and droughts -- that highlight the importance and the benefits of Corps activities.
The subcommittee has a history of bipartisan support for funding these important activities, and I expect that will continue. To understand how to craft a responsible bill for fiscal year 2014, however, we need to understand the impacts of the many demands on your programs this year.

So, once again, welcome to our witnesses. I now turn to the Ranking Member for any comments she may have.