News Releases

Murray Announces Victory in Fight to Keep Ballard Locks Open

Nov 07 2005

Senator's 10-month Effort Pays Off; House-Senate Committee Approves the $2.1 million that Murray Secured to Avoid Cutbacks in Hours and Services at Ballard Locks

WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today announced that the final House-Senate Energy and Water spending bill includes the $2.1 million she secured to keep the Ballard Locks operating without reductions in hours or services.

"The Ballard Locks play a critical role in supporting our economy and our quality of life, and I'm pleased to announce that there will be no need for cutbacks this year," Senator Murray said. "It was an uphill battle because of the tight federal budget, the President's proposed cuts, and the lack of funding in the House, but we prevailed. This is great news for workers, businesses and families throughout the region."

The Lake Washington Ship Canal was threatened with cuts in hours and services after President Bush proposed cutting its funding by one-third and the House of Representatives did not act to restore those cuts.

Senator Murray used her position on the Senate's Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee to add $2.1 million to the Senate's 2006 Energy and Water bill to keep the locks open full time.

Today, a joint House-Senate conference committee approved Murray's funding and sent the Energy and Water bill to the House and Senate for final approval.

A 10-Month Fight

Murray's victory caps a 10-month effort to restore funding for the Ballard Locks. In February, President Bush submitted a budget to Congress which proposed cutting funding for the locks by one-third, from $6.48 million in Fiscal Year 2005 to $4.38 million Fiscal Year 2006, which began in October 2006. The President's proposed cut prompted the Army Corps of Engineers to explore limiting hours of service and other cutbacks.

The House of Representatives did not restore the President's cuts in its version of the Energy and Water bill.

In March, Senator Murray introduced a request to restore the President’s funding cuts. In April, at a hearing of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray raised the question of funding for the Ballard Locks with the Lieutenant Carl Strock, Chief of Engineers for the Army Corps of Engineers.

In June, Murray added $2.1 million to the Senate's Energy and Water bill, which passed the subcommittee on June 14th. Two days later, the larger Senate Appropriations Committee approved Murray's funding for the locks. Then on July 1st, the full Senate approved the funding, and the House and Senate versions were sent to a conference committee to be reconciled. Today, that conference committee (which Murray serves on) approved a final version of the bill, which includes a total of $6.48 million for the Ballard Locks.

The bill now goes to the House and Senate for final approval and then to President Bush for his signature.