U.S. Senator Josh Hawley is introducing new legislation today to address persistent issues with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and this year’s devastating Missouri River flooding. The two bills prioritize Missouri families and businesses along the river, especially farmers who have been ignored by the Corps.
Sen. Hawley’s “Army Corps of Engineers Flood Control Civilian Advisory Council Act” would first ensure farmers have a seat at the table for Corps decision-making that directly impacts their farms and local communities. It establishes a new advisory council with two members from each state along the Missouri River – as appointed by the President – to have a role in advising the Corps on how to best revise the master manual in broader terms, to fully prioritize flood control and navigation. The council will have representatives from agriculture and other river commerce industries.
Sen. Hawley’s second bill, the “Missouri River Flood Control Prioritization Act,” is the Senate companion of Congressman Sam Graves (MO-6)’s H.R. 2174, introduced in April. It makes flood control the number one priority in the Corps’ master manual, removes fish and wildlife as an authorized purpose, and instructs the Army Corps of Engineers to update its manual to reflect these changes within 90 days of the bill’s passage into law. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) is an original co-sponsor.
The Corps currently has eight goals in their master manual that are in tension with one other, creating confusion when it comes to managing the river. The goals are not listed in any priority order, and they include flood control, navigation, water supply, water quality control, irrigation, recreation, hydropower and fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species.
“The Missouri River flooding has once again devastated our state and it’s clear something has to change,” said Senator Hawley. “People who live along the river regularly deal with catastrophic flooding, simply because the Army Corps is acting under conflicting priorities. What’s more, farmers feel like they have been shut out and their voices don’t matter – and that is completely unacceptable. By introducing these bills, we can get at the root of the problem, demand change, and ensure the Army Corps prioritizes the safety and sustainability of our communities.”
Congressman Graves is the House sponsor of Hawley’s “Missouri River Flood Control Prioritization Act” and said, “Flood control must be the main priority on the Missouri River. People and property should always take precedent over fish and birds. Senator Hawley recognizes this and I’m thrilled that he is leading on this issue in the Senate. Working together, I’m hopeful that we can properly address the management priorities on the Missouri River, saving lives and livelihoods in the process.”
The bills follow Sen. Hawley’s ongoing discussions with Army Corps leadership, local officials, and farming communities along the Missouri River. Summaries of the bills can be found below.
- Creates an advisory council, appointed by the President in consultation with the Senate, with two members from each state in which the Missouri River flows.
- The advisory council will make recommendations to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on how to prioritize flood control and navigation in the master manual.
- The council must include representation from agriculture and other river commerce industries.
- The council will submit a report with their recommendations to the USACE and Congress after one year, and the council will be dissolved after their report is released.
- The bill requires the USACE to make flood control management the highest priority purpose on the Missouri River system.
- Fish and wildlife will no longer be an authorized purpose and therefore cannot be given priority over levees and other flood control systems that protect landowners and communities along the Missouri River system.
- The Chief of Engineers will revise the Missouri River Master Manual to reflect making flood control the highest priority of any USACE civil works on the Missouri River system.
- The policy change must be enacted within 90 days of the bill’s passage.