President Bush formally has asked Congress to provide an additional $2.2 billion for the Corps of Engineers to strengthen levees in and around New Orleans. The new aid, contained in an April 25 request, would supplement the $1.46 billion Bush proposed in February. If lawmakers approve the latest proposed installment , it would bring the Corps' total for work on New Orleans levees and related projects to nearly $6 billion.
The House included the $1.46 billion for the Corps in a $92-billion emergency supplemental aid package it approved March 16. The Senate Appropriations Committee boosted the Corps' funding to $2.1 billion in the supplemental spending measure it cleared before the Easter recess. Senate floor debate has begun on that bill.
The new $2.2 billion request includes $1.6 billion to replace levee I-walls with
T-walls in Lake Pontchartrain and West Bank area projects; and $495 million to raise and strengthen levees in those areas. The White House wants localities to pay $267 million for the levee strengthening, whose total cost is estimated at $762 million, the Office of Management and Budget says. OMB proposes a maximum federal share of 65% for that work.
To offset the added levee funding, OMB says the administration recommends cutting $2.2 billion from the $9.4 billion Bush asked for in February for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.