Government Shutdown Places Critical Infrastructrure Needs on Hold

Cities and states wait for federal funding.

  • Congress in 2017 approved $16 billion in earmarks for resiliency efforts
  • The Trump administration has yet to write the application rules
  • Local funding for infrastructure being diverted

The continued partial government shutdown is impacting America’s infrastructure by delaying federal funding for infrastructure rebuilding and resiliency.

Congress almost 18 months ago earmarked $16 billion in federal funding for rebuilding and resiliency efforts after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast. The money was to have been split between Puerto Rico ($8.3 billion), Texas ($4 billion), Louisiana ($1.2 billion), the U.S. Virgin Islands ($774 million) and Florida ($550 million).

The states and territories impacted by the hurricanes have yet to receive their portion of the funding, because the Trump administration has yet to issue rules telling states how to apply for the money.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush earlier this month sent a letter to Office of Management & Budget Director Mick Mulvaney calling for his department to approve rules which would allow the funding to be allocated.

“We cannot afford to wait any longer,” Bush wrote. Now, almost a month into the government shutdown, there are no workers to draft the rules or oversee their implementation.

State of emergency

President Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency and, according to some news outlets, explored reallocating funds earmarked for Harvey and Irma recovery to construct an estimated $5.6 billion border wall in the event that Congress does not provide funding for it.

Such a move would likely be contested in courts for years, leaving already damaged areas with little hope of ever seeing the funding. It would also ensure that the affected regions will remain vulnerable to future hurricanes.

“The longer the shutdown continues, the more initiatives that could combat floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters come under threat.”

Projects under threat

The longer the shutdown continues, the more initiatives that could combat floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters come under threat.

One is the Louisiana Department of Transportation’s Comite River Diversion Canal project. The project includes a 12-mile-long diversion channel, diversion structures, guide levees, and low-flow augmentation pumps. Costs could reach $3 billion and the projected costs will, without doubt, escalate as more time passes.

The city of Miami, Florida in 2017 allocated $200 million to sea level mitigation and adaptation measures, such as storm-drain upgrades, pumps and seawalls. Another $100 million was allocated to replace affordable housing.

However additional funds were needed to complete a project of this scope. Without those funds, Miami has since diverted the funding to smaller projects it can address in the short-term, such as fixing roads and parks.

The government shutdown is now affecting the country in thousands of ways. These are just examples of how Americans are suffering.

Start typing and press Enter to search