- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on Transportation and InfrastructureWater Resources and EnvironmentIntroducedFebruary 11th, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 1137?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 1137
In-Depth: Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced this bill to prevent President Trump from diverting disaster recovery funds from Army Corps civil workers projects to build his border wall:
“Taking recovery funds from disaster victims as ransom for a border wall would be a new low, even for this President. $14 billion in disaster-recovery funds are at risk of being gutted, including $2.5 billion each from civil works projects in California and Puerto Rico. No President has ever raided disaster-recovery funds, and we should not allow President Trump to be the first. My legislation would fully repeal the President’s authority to raid critical disaster recovery funds from the Army Corps of Engineers to build his misguided border wall.”
In an interview with The Reporter after introducing this bill, Rep. Garamendi said he’d heard from contacts within the Trump administration that Budget Director Mick Mulvaney had been searching for money for the border wall:
“The civil works projects were targeted earlier on, and the California projects were further selected as potential targets for being redirected. For Sacramento, there is just short $2 billion of dam and levee improvements for the city of Sacramento and the region. That project has been underway for more than a decade, and it’s coming to completion to develop a 200-year flood protection for the urban Sacramento area. If this money is ripped off to build a wall, it is absolutely certain the life-threatening weakness of these levees will not be solved.”
In a letter to his Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill, Rep. Garamendi noted that there are billions of dollars, as well as Congress’ constitutional authority, at stake:
“Some $37.7 billion is at risk for civil works projects in nearly every state and U.S. territory. Earlier this year, President Trump reviewed a list of Army Corps projects funded by supplemental disaster-recovery money. Together, these civil works projects total more than $13.9 billion appropriated by Congress for communities nationwide recovering from hurricanes, wildfires, and floods. Raiding such funds would endanger communities in many of our districts and undermine Congress’s constitutional authority. My bill would simply strike a section from the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (33 U.S.C. 2293), which authorizes the Executive Branch to unilaterally re-program Army Corps civil works funds during Presidentially declared national emergencies. According to the Congressional Research Service, no president has ever invoked this 1986 provision originally intended for civil defense during the Cold War. Striking this antiquated authority would safeguard funds appropriated by Congress for Army Corps civil works projects, now and forever. I invite all Members—Democrats and Republicans—to join me in cosponsoring this bill reasserting Congress’s constitutional authority to appropriate federal funds.”
This bill has 38 Democratic cosponsors.
Of Note: The legal authority that this bill would revoke was originally requested by the Reagan administration for Congressionally declared wars and national emergencies requiring civil defense during the Cold War. The Congressional Research Service reports that no president has ever invoked this authority.
In January 2019, Rep. Garamendi received confirmation that the Trump administration was considering diverting nearly $5 billion in disaster recovery funding from Army Corps projects in California and Puerto Rico to fund construction of the president’s promised border wall. In February 2018, Congress approved this disaster recovery funding for Army Corps civil work projects in response to damage from wildfires and hurricanes in both those areas. Rep. Garamendi and other Congressional Democrats identified this provision as a possible legal authority for President Trump to divert Army Corps funding for the border wall.
- Sponsoring Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) Press Release
- Sponsoring Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) Dear Colleague Letter
- The Reporter
Summary by Lorelei Yang
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