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US Port Funding in Peril

Posted on October 12, 2015

US ports could be at risk of losing out on new grants for vital infrastructure projects following Congress’ temporary funding bill, says the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).

Instead of passing appropriations bills that would fully fund the US government by the September 30 deadline, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) through December 11.

While it will primarily impact new grant funds, AAPA says it could also impact the Corps of Engineers dredging projects where money will need to be rationed. “This could be especially disruptive for dredging given the limited timeframes available due to environmental restrictions imposed by the Threatened and Endangered Species Act,” the association said in a statement.

“Corps contracts would not be fully funded in a CR, so the Corps would advertise contracts with ‘options’ for additional work if funds become available, which would likely result in higher costs.

The Continuing Resolution caps appropriations at the same levels as the previous fiscal year, but if a new project is in FY 2016 Congressional appropriations, funding would be based on FY 2015 appropriations and must wait until the final appropriations bill is signed into law before the contract is awarded,” the AAPA explained.

“Additionally, ‘new starts’ for construction work and navigation studies identified in Congressional appropriations cannot begin during a CR. Also, dredging projects that are performed on an annual basis could be delayed or cancelled,” the statement added.

For most grants, federal agencies normally wait until they have a full-year budget before opening up the next round of grants for applications. AAPA says this would impact TIGER and Port Security grants.

According to AAPA, US Customs and the Coast Guard do not expect to see a significant impact, although some activities could be delayed until a full budget is passed.

It’s understood President Obama has said the White House will not tolerate another stop-gap resolution in December.

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