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CRS — Army Corps Supplemental Appropriations: Recent History, Trends, and Policy Issues

December 20, 2012

Army Corps Supplemental Appropriations: Recent History, Trends, and Policy Issues (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Under its civil works program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans, builds, operates, and maintains a wide range of water resources facilities. The Corps also plays a prominent role in responding to domestic natural disasters, in particular riverine and coastal flooding events. The Corps can assist in flood fighting at the discretion of its Chief of Engineers in order to protect life and property, principally when state resources are overwhelmed. The Corps is also authorized to protect and repair its own facilities in the event of flooding, and to operate a program, the Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (RIP), that funds the repair of participating nonfederal flood control works (e.g., levees, dams, dunes) damaged by flooding events. Repairs under this program are funded by the Corps’ Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) account. The Corps also undertakes a variety of other activities at the request of FEMA under the National Response Framework, which are outside the scope of this report.

In recent years a number of natural disasters have required Corps response and repair activities with costs running into the billions. Congress provided most of these funds through supplemental appropriations. Over the 10-year period FY2003 to FY2012, Congress appropriated $25.5 billion in supplemental funding for the Corps through 12 supplemental appropriations acts (including P.L. 111-5, or ARRA). This was approximately half of the total amount received by the Corps in annual appropriations over the same period. Of the $25.5 billion, about $21 billion (82%) was for actions to respond to riverine and coastal flooding or other natural disasters. The majority of this funding was for response and repair related to Hurricane Katrina and the 2005 storm season ($16 billion). In addition to the disaster funding, Congress provided the Corps with non-disaster related supplemental funds, including $4.6 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) and $39 million for facility security and other expenditures.

Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the East Coast is raising questions about how to fund Corps natural disaster response and recovery activities, including infrastructure investments in hurricane and flood protection. This report summarizes recent trends in supplemental funding for the Corps, particularly related to natural disasters. It provides summary data and analysis on Corps funding over the last 10 years and includes a general discussion of how the Corps funds emergency actions at its own facilities and elsewhere.

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