Waterways Council decries Trump budget
The Waterways Council Inc., which represents waterways carriers, shippers, port authorities, agriculture, labor and conservation organizations, shipping associations and waterways advocacy groups, called President Donald Trump’s budget provisions for inland navigation “astonishingly inadequate.”
The council said the Trump budget for fiscal year 2021 “provides $0 for construction of ongoing priority navigation projects cost-shared through the Inland Waterways Trust Fund; cuts funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Mission by 22% ($5.967 billion, a $1.7 billion decrease from the FY20 enacted level); and proposes $1.8 million in new user fees on commercial waterways operators.”
“Last fiscal year (FY20), Congress appropriated $335 million for four IWTF-funded projects under construction on the inland waterways system, enabling efficient funding for Kentucky Lock (Kentucky), Chickamauga Lock (Tennessee), and funding to completion for Olmsted Locks and Dam (Illinois/Kentucky) and the Lower Mon Project (Pennsylvania),” the group said.
“If the president’s FY21 budget is accepted, these construction projects would shut down for one fiscal year, workers would be laid off, and costs would increase when the projects are restarted,” WCI said.
“While the president’s FY21 budget represents the administration’s priorities, WCI is extremely disappointed and absolutely astonished at no investment in rebuilding the nation’s critical inland waterways transportation system,” WCI President and CEO Mike Toohey said.“No president has ever proposed zero infrastructure investment. Are we to lay off the workers constructing the projects now underway? Where is the 29-cents-per-gallon fuel tax money that users pay going, while the administration seeks $180 million in additional annual fees with no plans to spend it? Where is the shame?
“The budget will hopefully be considered dead on arrival in Congress, and I will offer to members of the House and Senate to provide the shovel and the preacher.”