Fleischmann Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Works and the Bureau of Reclamation (As Prepared)

Mar 29, 2023

The hearing will come to order.

It is my pleasure to welcome Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Michael Connor, and Commanding General and Chief of Engineers, Lieutenant General Scott Spellmon, to discuss the fiscal year 2024 budget request for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Commissioner Camille Touton to discuss the request for the Bureau of Reclamation.

The Subcommittee has a long history of strong support for the infrastructure needed to manage our nation’s water resources, promote public safety, and ensure America maintains its competitive advantage in transporting goods to market.

And as a long-time representative of eastern Tennessee, I have a keen interest in construction and maintenance of our nation’s inland waterways system. These locks and dams make possible the movement of waterborne commerce throughout the interior of the country and are essential for America’s agriculture, aggregates industry, and energy security.

I was disappointed the budget request included no funds for inland waterways construction projects. These projects, like many large Corps projects, have faced delays and cost escalations, including Chickamauga Lock in my district. Execution of the Chick Lock project seems to be on a better path now, but we need to continue working to improve project delivery of these critical water resources infrastructure projects.

Overall, I am concerned this budget does not sufficiently invest in Corps or Reclamation infrastructure. While not unusual for the budget request to propose reductions for these programs, it is still disappointing.

The $7.4 billion request would reduce funding for the Corps of Engineers by more than 14% below the fiscal year 2023 enacted level. The budget proposes the largest cuts for the Corps’ civil works mission in the Mississippi Rivers and Tributaries, Investigations, and Operation and Maintenance accounts. Further, the request for Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund activities is over $1 billion below the maximum offset allowed by law.

I’d note that the Subcommittee has not yet received justification sheets for the Operation and Maintenance account. These budget materials are essential for the Subcommittee to conduct its work, and I hope we can expect that information soon.

The $1.9 billion request for the Bureau of Reclamation represents a 25% cut below the fiscal year 2023 enacted level, including a 27% reduction to the Water and Related Resources account. This account funds drought mitigation and planning, new and existing water supply infrastructure, and operation of water projects across the West.

Assistant Secretary Connor, General Spellmon, and Commissioner Touton, I appreciate you being here today to explain your budget requests. I look forward to working together with you and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move forward a bill that will enhance public safety and maximize the economic benefit of America’s water resources.

Please ensure that the hearing record, questions for the record, and any supporting information requested by the subcommittee are delivered in final form to us no later than four weeks from the time that you receive them. Members who have additional questions for the record will have until the close of business Monday to provide them to the subcommittee office.

With that, I will turn to my Ranking Member, Ms. Kaptur, for her opening statement.