The results of fiscal year 2007 appropriations so far in the Senate are gloomy for infrastructure programs. In a busy June 29 session that saw the Senate Appropriations Committee clear four of the 12 annual spending measures, lawmakers sliced spending for Environmental Protection Agency water accounts, the Corps of Engineers civil works program and Dept. of Energy defense environmental cleanup. Changes are possible when the measures come to the Senate floor after the July 4 break, but the signals aren’t encouraging.
Part of the problem is that budget allocations didn’t give appropriators “a whole lot of room,” says Larry Bory, HDR’s vice president for federal government relations. “We are in a situation where domestic infrastructure is taking a back seat” to funding for military and homeland security, he says. “It’s not surprising. It’s regrettable.”
The Senate panel trimmed EPA’s water infrastructure program 4%, to $3 billion for 2007. The House has approved $9 million more than the Senate committee. Within the EPA account, the panel chopped aid to Clean Water State Revolving Funds by 22%, to $688 million, the same level that the House has approved.
In the energy-water bill, Senate appropriators allotted $5.1 billion for Corps civil works, a 4% cut from 2006, excluding this year’s $6.6 billion in supplemental hurricane relief aid. The panel’s 2007 total includes $2 billion for the Corps construction account, down 13% from this year.
The committee trimmed DOE defense cleanup 11%, to $5.5 billion. In one of few hikes, the committee boosted the Bureau of Reclamation budget by $6 million, to $1.03 billion.
In the committee’s State-Foreign Operations bill, State Dept. embassy security, construction and maintenance gets $1.4 billion, down 7% from 2006 and 8% below the House’s 2007 figure.
The Senate committee-passed homeland security measure includes $210 million for port security grants, $150 million for rail and transit security and $172 million to install explosive-detection equipment in airports.
Still to come is Senate action on the Transportation-Treasury measure, which includes highway, transit and airport accounts.