Area congressman supports Trump’s plan for Army Corps
Houma-Thibodaux area congressman is praising President Donald Trump’s proposal to move the Army Corps of Engineers out of the Department of Defense.
Rep. Garret Graves, Baton Rouge, has long criticized the corps, a key agency responsible for hurricane protection and levee work in Louisiana, as slowing progress through excessive bureaucracy and permit requirements.
Trump’s sweeping proposal to reorganize the federal government, which he released Thursday, would move the corps’ sections responsible for those duties to the Interior Department. The corps’ section that maintains navigable waterways would shift to the Department of Transportation.
“We need our Department of Defense focusing on national security threats like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and terrorists – not on wetlands permits,” Graves said in a news release. “The current organizational structure of the Corps of Engineers and our nation’s critical water resources mission – hurricane protection, coastal restoration, flood control, ports and waterways – needs to be compatible with the agency’s mission and a priority of the cabinet secretary. The current structure is neither and the decades of delays and skyrocketing project costs have resulted.
“We have been discussing this with senior Trump administration officials, military leaders and many others across the country. White House support for this initiative is a major boost to the groundwork we have laid in the recently passed Water Resources Development Act.”
Graves, House Water Resource Subcommittee chairman, included similar corps changes in the water bill, which now heads to the Senate.
He touted those changes in March during a joint gathering of the area’s chambers of commerce. In that speech, Graves noted that the corps has spent $80 million on studies for the Morganza levee project that protects Terrebonne and parts of Lafourche from Gulf of Mexico storms. But the agency hasn’t turned any dirt itself -- that work is being done by the local levee board.
“That’s unacceptable,” he told the business groups. “And so we’re working on legislation to fix that.”