Administration Again Proposes Unlikely Cuts in Corps Water Resources Budget

The Biden Administration has proposed cutting the regular annual budget for the water resources program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by 21 percent in its 2023 budget request, versus the enacted levels in 2022. That would reduce the budget from $7.8 billion in fiscal 2022 to $6.6 billion in fiscal 2023.

The proposed cuts are concentrated in the Construction (-$140 million), Operations and Maintenance (-$272 million), and Mississippi River System (-$140 million) accounts.

Two gigantic caveats:

First, this is only the annual part of the Corps water budget. They also got $17.1 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure act, and unlike the Department of Transportation (where the IIJA money was doled out in five equal tranches over five years), the Corps got $15 billion of its $17.1 billion total in 2022, the first year of the bill. So that massive amount of yet-to-be-digested one-time 2022 appropriations mitigates any retrenchment in the 2023 regular budget.

The White House does this all the time –proposes that capital spending in the Corps get cut back substantially while remaining secure in the knowledge that Congress will never, ever allow significant cuts to its precious Corps of Engineers to take place. As the table below shows, over the last decade, the Obama and Trump Administrations requested $7.65 billion less in proposed Corps water funding than Congress eventually provided.

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