In the News
Sep 27 2016
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Members of Iowa's Washington delegation are calling for the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite construction of flood protection for Cedar Rapids.
It's part of an amendment U.S. Representatives Rod Blum (R-IA) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) are offering to the Water Resources Development Act this week
In the past year, Blum and Loebsack have sent joint letters to the Corps, the House Appropriations Committee and the Obama Administration asking for the Cedar Rapids flood protection funds to be released. The language in the amendment closely resembles a provision introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) in the Water Resources Development Act in the Senate, which passed earlier this month.
Congress approved the Cedar Rapids project in 2014, but the Obama Administration has not yet included the project in its budget.
"The House and the Senate have stepped up. It's the president's administration and his OMB department that has said that this project does not meet their guidelines. It's very tough for a small, urban area like Cedar Rapids to compete with the larger cities in the United States. So we are asking them to prioritize this project and go outside of their guidelines because this is the second flood in eight years in Cedar Rapids," Blum said.
When we asked the Army Corps of Engineers why they have neglected to complete this project, they responded in a statement: "These limited federal resources dictate that projects be prioritized such that available funds are focused on the highest performing projects first. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Flood Risk Management project has not received funds to initiate construction on that prioritized basis."
Senators Grassley and Ernst issued a joint statement Tuesday, calling for the Government Accountability Office to study whether the value of a property for which a flood mitigation project would prevent damage is the best measurement for cost-benefit calculations for Corps projects.
"With all due respect, it is no longer sufficient to say that your hands are tied and that nothing short of a congressional earmark can help communities like Cedar Rapids that have lower property values. You have some discretion to help and have simply made the decision to forego that assistance."
In a statement, Blum's opponent this November - Monica Vernon said "While it is devastating that we had to experience another flood disaster in order for the federal government to move on its promise to us, My hope is that we will finally have the resources necessary to keep our people and our city safe."