John Doyle, special counsel to the law and lobbying firm JonesWalker LLP, says, “The Corps did very well—much better than I think anyone had any right to expect.”

Doyle, a former senior Army civil works official, notes that the $5-billion Corps allotment is higher than the levels in earlier House and Senate versions of the energy and water programs spending bills. “Ten years ago, or even maybe five years ago,” he says, “one wouldn’t think that was so extraordinary or unusual, but in this budget climate I certainly didn’t expect to see that happen.”

Appropriators gave the Corps even more good news, providing an additional $1.7 billion to help rebuild and repair U.S. infrastructure damaged by storms, floods and other natural disasters.

The $1.7 billion is part of a separate $8.1-billion disaster-relief measure that Obama also signed on Dec. 23. The Federal Emergency Management Agency receives the other $6.4 billion in the bill.  The Senate had approved the disaster-relief measure on Dec. 17, one day after the House passed it.

The House also cleared a third measure, which aimed to offset the $8.1 billion in disaster-relief funds by cutting line-items in the omnibus by 1.83%, except for defense and veterans' programs. But the Senate rejected that offset bill, sinking the across-the-board cut.

Updated on Dec. 23 to take note of bill's enactment that day.