Congressman Garret Graves

WASHINGTON – A Trump Administration proposal to remove certain functions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from the Department of Defense umbrella drew praise Thursday from Louisiana Republican Congressman Garret Graves.

The plan would put COE work projects under the departments of transportation and interior, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget told the Associated Press on Thursday.

The reorganization -- listed in the White House’s release of “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century Reform Plan, and Reorganization and Recommendations” – would streamline efficiency and speed up work on long-delayed projects, including the Comite River Diversion Canal, according to Graves.

“We need our Department of Defense focusing on national security threats like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and terrorists – not on wetlands permits,” he said. “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. 

“We have been discussing this with senior Trump Administration officials, military leaders and many others across the country, said Graves, who represents south Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District. “White House support for this initiative is a major boost to the groundwork we have laid in the recently-passed Water Resources Development Act.”

Among other recommendations, the White House proposal also: 

  • Consolidates DOI hazardous cleanup into EPA superfund program. 
  • Moves the Corps CW out of DOD splitting navigation to DOT and everything else to DOI. 
  • Sells TVA power transmission assets
  • Spins-off the St Lawrence Seaway from DOT. 
  • Moves NMFS to USFW
  • Transitions Federal Government to electronic platform – consistent with Graves’ CASES legislation.

As the House Water Resource Subcommittee Chairman, Graves successfully included provisions in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018 to build on efforts focused on making the Army Corps of Engineers work for the American people, including a provision to begin the process of moving the Corps of Engineers out of the Department of Defense and into a more compatible federal agency. 

“This reorganization will ensure that departments are better able to solve the problems they were created to address, and ensures that the American people, not bureaucratic process, is at the heart of our government,” he said.

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