PoliticalNews.me - Apr 27,2016 - Flake Offers Amendment to Cut $69 Million in Wasteful Army Corps Funds
Duplicative Program First Highlighted in Flake’s Jurassic Pork Oversight Report
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) spoke in support of his amendment to a Senate appropriations bill that would eliminate $69 million in unrequested funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to build parochial environmental infrastructure projects. Flake’s amendment to eliminate this duplicative program and reduce the taxpayer cost of the spending bill failed by a vote of 12 to 84.
Prior to the 2012 congressional earmark ban, the USACE environmental infrastructure program was a well-known vehicle for earmarked water supply, water treatment, and wastewater projects. Despite the fact that USACE requests no funding for this program, it continues to be funded by Congress. In the post-earmark ban era, it remains unclear how exactly USACE determines which environmental infrastructure projects are funded. Unlike traditional USACE undertakings, environmental infrastructure projects are not subject to similar environmental studies, economic analysis, and cost-effectiveness standards as the state revolving fund.
Beyond lacking oversight, the USACE environmental infrastructure program is duplicative. Municipalities have traditionally self-funded such projects through a combination of utility bill and municipal bonds. In addition, there are existing federal programs better suited to fund environmental infrastructure projects, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides states with low interest loans based on the merits of their projects and the needs of communities.
“With a half-trillion dollar deficit, I don’t see how we square spending tens of millions of dollars that no one requested on a duplicative program that no one understands,” said Flake. “It’s past time Congress brought this earmark-era relic to an end.”
Video of Flake’s remarks can be viewed here.
Background: The amendment was supported by 60 Plus Association, Americans for Tax Reform, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Coalition to Reduce Spending, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, FreedomWorks, Less Government, National Taxpayers Union, R Street Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and Taxpayers Protection Alliance. A letter of support from these groups can be viewed here.
Flake highlighted the need to eliminate USACE funding for these projects in his June 2015 oversight report, Jurassic Pork. That report, which detailed continued cost of earmarked projects, was released in response to a call from members of Congress to abandon the congressional ban on earmarks.