As congressional appropriators pick up the pace on fiscal 2005 spending bills, the Corps of Engineers civil works, Dept. of Energy cleanup, and rail and port security are among the construction-related programs in line for increases.

Bills to fund the Dept. of Homeland Security in the next fiscal year are well along among appropriations measures this year and so far, rail and ports are doing better in the Senate than in the House. But the amounts recommended still are well below the sums officials in those industries are seeking.

The $31.9-billion homeland security measure that the House was debating on June 18 has $111 million for railroad and mass transit, and $125 million for port grants. In another construction-related account, airports would receive $269 million to install explosive-detection systems.

In the version that cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 17, which also totals $32 billion, has $150 million for rail and $150 million for ports. Airport installation of baggage screening systems would receive $250 million.

The rail and port amounts represent increases over the 2004 allotments, but are short of what industry groups want. For 2005, the American Public Transportation Association is seeking $2 billion for security, while the American Association of Port Authorities has been lobbying for $400 million.


In other appropriations action so far:

Energy and water: The House committee approved a $28-billion bill on June 16, which provides $4.82 billion for the Corps of Engineers civil works program, up 5% from 2005. Within the civil works total, the construction account would total $1.87 billion, up 9% from 2004. The same bill recommends $968 million for the Bureau of Reclamation, a 3% increase from this year's level, and $6.89 billion for Dept. of Energy defense environmental management, a 5% gain from 2004. The bill may go to the House floor the week of June 21. There has been no action yet in the Senate on energy-water.

Interior: The first of the 13 spending bills for 2005 bill to pass the House, this measure, approved on June 17 by a 334-86 vote, provides $19.8 billion for the Interior Dept., up $300 million from 2004. The total excludes $500 million in emergency funds to fight wildfires. The National Park Service's construction account would be cut 10%, to $298 million but appropriators hiked Park Service maintenance spending 2%, to $573 million. No action yet on the interior bill in the Senate.

Commerce-Justice-State Depts.: Approved by House subcommittee on June 15, this bill includes $1.5 billion for State Dept. embassy improvements, $146 million more than in 2004. The full Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on the measure on June 23. No action yet in the Senate.