By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA

The House of Representatives July 29 unanimously authorized $8.6 billion for 34 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects and allowed $10 billion in accumulated Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund user fees to be allocated for dredging and other major port and harbor projects. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) praised the bipartisan vote on H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.

While an authorization of these projects and programs is critical for infrastructure improvements to move forward, the annual appropriations process is ultimately where spending levels are decided. Recent appropriations laws have fallen short of authorized levels, though the gap is closing.

The Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee May 6 unanimously approved its version of the marine transport legislation. The bill would authorize $5.1 billion to support 26 Army Corps of Engineers projects and may see full Senate action soon, which could allow a compromise of the two versions of the bill to be signed into law this year.