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Managed by Paul J. Loftus, a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Transportation Law Today provides professionals in the rail, transit, inland maritime, and trucking industries with current news and analysis of laws, rulings, and regulatory policies.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nearly $3 Billion in Budget Deal Slated for Olmstead Lock and Dam Project

Who said earmarks are dead? Tucked into yesterday's long-anticipated Congressional deal to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shut-down was this seemingly innocuous paragraph:

"Sec. 123. Section 3(a)(6) of Public Law 100-676 is amended by striking the occurrences of "$775,000,000" and inserting in lieu thereof, "$2,918,000,000."

PL 100-676 is the WRDA bill of 1988, which originally authorized the Olmstead lock and dam project at $775 million. The now-approved budget resolution more than triples the authorized expenditures for the cost overrun plagued project on the Ohio River. As you can see from the text of the joint budget resolution, it was not exactly a "clean" resolution, with various other individual funding provisions (including $186 million for Maritime Security - sec. 152).

With the ink apparently still drying in the budget deal, some have already referred to the Olmstead provision as the "Kentucky Kick-Back."

See also, my earlier post on the draft WRRDA bill which attempted to free the Inland Waterways Trust fund from essentially funding only the Olmstead project given its huge costs. Presumably funding Olmstead via the budget resolution solves the problem of Olmstead monopolizing the Inland Waterway Trust Fund.