Hoeven: Senate Confirms R.D. James as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works

Senator Met with Key U.S. Army Corps Official during Confirmation Process to Advance Comprehensive Flood Protection for Minot Region, Red River Valley

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm R.D. James as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. Hoeven met with James in November and urged him to help advance flood protection in North Dakota. The senator stressed to James the importance of the flood study in the Minot region and comprehensive flood protection for the Red River Valley in ensuring the long-term security and well-being of families and businesses in the regions.

“I appreciate Assistant Secretary James for meeting with me during his confirmation process to learn about vital efforts to protect our communities in North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “I continue working with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee, as well as officials across the administration, to fund this important work and secure comprehensive flood protection for the Minot region and the Red River Valley.”

Hoeven is working as a member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Committee to support regional flood protection efforts in North Dakota. To this end, the senator helped secure the following priorities in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 funding legislation and is continuing his efforts to include them in a future appropriations package:

  • Army Corps Construction – Provides $125 million in funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control projects above the administration’s budget request. This additional funding will help ensure that efforts like comprehensive flood protection in the Red River Valley are funded in the Corps’ FY2018 work plan. 
  • Minot Area Flood Study – Provides $400,000 for the Corps’ feasibility study in the Souris River Basin. The study is a vital step in advancing the first four phases of the Minot area’s flood protection project.
  • Addressing Section 408 Delays – Includes a provision at Hoeven’s request directing the Corps to expedite processing of Section 408 packages, which are used to make changes to existing Corps projects, and find alternative ways to approve project modifications. Hoeven has been in regular contact with the Army Corps to resolve the delays since July, which are affecting projects across North Dakota. Last month, Hoeven announced that the Corps had completed the Section 408 review for the Minot region.
  • Fair Treatment of Public-Private Partnerships – Includes a provision to ensure fair treatment of public-private partnerships, such as flood protection for the Fargo-Moorhead region, during the Corps’s analysis of a project’s benefits and costs. Hoeven has secured commitments from administration officials to address inconsistencies in this policy, including Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Army Corps Chief Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite and Neomi Rao, the head of the administration’s central regulatory authority.

In addition, Hoeven continues working with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long, who Hoeven hosted in Minot last year, to ensure the agency’s preliminary flood maps and the resulting flood insurance rates are accurate in the Souris River Basin. This includes making sure FEMA reevaluates discrepancies in its preliminary flood maps, provides an extended timetable for public comment on the maps and updates the maps as permanent flood protection is built.

Hoeven is also working with FEMA to identify additional funding to construct flood protection for the remainder of the Souris River Basin. The Army Corps of Engineers current project entails four phases, and federal support is needed to develop subsequent phases and ensure protection for the whole region.