WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, emphasized to the Commanding General and Chief of Engineers of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Lieutenant General Semonite, that Cedar Rapids products have a domestic and global economic impact and rely on proper Corps infrastructure to move.

The economic success of the City of Cedar Rapids is critical to the entire wellbeing of Iowa. There are businesses located in Cedar Rapids that have domestic and global economic impacts. Senator Ernst highlighted that the September 2016 flood caused Cedar Rapids, the second largest city in Iowa, to “lose 26 million dollars in sales and production due to being essentially shut down for an entire week when they were evacuated due to the floods.”

The Iowa Senator highlighted a few of the important domestic and global economic contributions of Cedar Rapids that could be affected by delays in production due to insufficient infrastructure. She noted, “breakfast cereal manufacturers in Cedar Rapids produce 13 percent of total U.S. output. Industry in Cedar Rapids also processes as much as 19 percent of the global oat crop in value added manufacturing per year, and wet corn milling in Cedar Rapids accounts for 8 percent of U.S. domestic ethanol production.”

Senator Ernst also referenced a provision in the recently passed Omnibus that stated, “administration budget metrics shall not be a reason to disqualify a study or project from being funded.”  The Iowa Senator noted that this provision is a “great step forward,” and asked Lieutenant General Semonite if these changes were a sign that the Corps and the Administration are looking to improve the system that calculates the economic benefits of flood control projects, which often favors areas with a higher property value.

Lieutenant General Semonite admitted that while the Cedar Rapids Flood Mitigation project was not a project that received priority due to the current benefit cost ratio, he did commit to continuing to work on moving the project forward.

Click here or on the image below to watch Senator Ernst’s full questioning of Lieutenant General Semonite.

At a March 29, 2017 hearing, Senator Ernst asked General Semonite for an update on the USACE’s budget submission process and for his commitment to thoughtfully consider the Cedar Rapids project, given it was authorized in 2014 and Congress mentioned the project for prioritization in 2016.

Senator Ernst also raised the flood mitigation funding issue at a meeting with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney earlier this year.