U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) today applauded passage of their amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill that prevents the removal of critical functions and staff from the Chicago District Office of the Army Corps of Engineers. In June, the Corps of Engineers announced an effort to move Chicago District Office functions to Detroit, potentially impacting more than 200 employees who oversee Corps projects such as Asian Carp, electric barriers and Chicago locks and dams.
"Chicago is the largest city on the edge of the Great Lakes. When important decisions are made about preventing the spread of Asian Carp, rehabilitating the Chicago Shoreline, constructing the Deep Tunnel and dredging the local harbors, they should be made right here in Illinois," said Durbin. "Without an explanation from the Army Corps of Engineers about the impact of this decision on the over 200 employees in the Chicago District Office, I am strongly opposed to this proposed move."
"One of the key projects for the Army Corps Chicago District is its mission to prevent the spread of destructive Asian Carp," Senator Kirk said. "While I support the Corps' intention to reduce overhead costs, I am concerned we do not have a full understanding of the impacts this decision could have on the Corps' ability to carry out its core function protecting Lake Michigan and our waterways."
The Amendment offered by Durbin and Kirk to the 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations bill prohibits funds from being used to move critical functions and staff from the Chicago District, and it also requires the Corps to report on any future consolidation plans. The Corps has not yet provided details about potential impacts of the plan to its area mission, employees and cost-effectiveness.
Senators Durbin and Kirk also welcomed the Senate Appropriations Committee passage of the FY 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, which included $140 million for the 251 Air Contract Towers nationwide. Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration announced its plans to close towers in Bloomington/Normal, Decatur, Murphysboro, East Alton, Waukegan and Marion, Illinois.