Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Garamendi Introduces Bill To Prevent President Trump From Raiding Army Corps Disaster-Recovery Funds

February 12, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced legislation (H.R.1137) to prevent President Trump from diverting disaster-recovery funds from Army Corps civil works projects to build his border wall.

Congressman Garamendi’s bill is cosponsored by Representatives Cisneros (D-CA), Velazquez (D-NY), Bera (D-CA), Gomez (D-CA), Takano (D-CA), Lowenthal (D-CA), Rouda (D-CA), Carbajal (D-CA), Huffman (D-CA), Eshoo (D-CA), Vargas (D-CA), Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Soto (D-FL), Lofgren (D-CA), Matsui (D-CA), Serrano (D-NY), Napolitano (D-CA), Plaskett (D-VI), and Harder (D-CA). All 7 Republican Members of Congress from California and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico (R) were also invited to cosponsor the bill.

“Taking recovery funds from disaster victims as ransom for a border wall would be a new low, even for this President,” said Garamendi. “$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.”

Congressman Garamendi’s bill (H.R.1137) would eliminate a provision from the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-662), authorizing Presidents to divert funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works budget during a presidentially declared national emergency.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, no President has ever invoked this 1986 legal authority, which was originally requested by the Reagan Administration for Congressionally declared wars and national emergencies requiring civil defense during the Cold War.

Last month, Congressman 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 (Public Law 115-123) this disaster-recovery funding for Army Corps civil work projects in response to damage from devastating wildfires and hurricanes across the nation.

Congressman Garamendi and other Congressional Democrats identified the 1986 provision as a possible legal authority President Trump could use divert Army Corps funding for his promised border wall.

The bill (H.R.1137) awaits action by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, of which Congressman Garamendi is a senior Democratic member.

The list of Army Corps civil works projects in California, Puerto Rico, and nationwide funded by federal disaster-recovery funds is available here.