Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) plans to move quickly. He says his panel will take up a second bill in July to “deal with the Midwest floods, Hurricane Katrina and to make critical investments in America.” That may include $455 million in emergency-relief highway funding that the House dropped from what became the newly enacted bill.
Bush sought some of the domestic spending in the bill he signed, such as its $2.65 billion for Midwest disaster aid. Of that, $606 million will go to the Army Corps of Engineers, spread among its operations and maintenance, construction and other accounts.
The Corps also receives $5.8 billion, available starting on Oct. 1, to improve levees and other flood-control infrastructure in Louisiana. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) urged Bush to let her state pay its $1.5-billion matching share on the projects over a 30-year period. An earlier Senate version of the funding bill gave the state more favorable terms than the final measure.
The package has $4 billion for Dept. of Defense construction, which includes $893 million for projects in Iraq and Afghanistan. But most of DOD’s allocation is for stateside work, led by $1.3 billion for the Base Realignment and Closure program. Lawmakers also focused on military health care, specifying $754 million for replacement Army hospitals at Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Riley, Kan., and $64 million for a hospital addition at the Marines’ Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The hospital projects have long been in the Army’s plans and should move rather quickly, says Larry Bory, vice president for federal government relations with HDR. “I would anticipate that they’re going to have these out on the street in the next couple of months,” he says.
he supplemental spending bill President Bush signed on June 30 provides $165 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and also carries about $11 billion for military and non-defense construction. But Senate Democratic leaders, unhappy the bill did not include all of the domestic funds they desired, plan to draft a second supplemental. The White House, which resisted some non-defense funding in earlier versions of the just-signed bill, may not embrace a follow-up. In addition, the bill provides $396 million for Dept. of Veterans Affairs polytrauma rehabilitation centers.