• ITVI.USA
    15,496.720
    85.590
    0.6%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.743
    0.003
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.110
    0.000
    0%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,466.390
    90.520
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,496.720
    85.590
    0.6%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.743
    0.003
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.110
    0.000
    0%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,466.390
    90.520
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Lawmakers file bill to increase port maintenance funding

House Reps. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., have introduced bipartisan legislation that would increase investments in harbor and port projects by 29 percent from current funding levels without raising user fees or taxes.

   U.S. House Reps. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., have filed a bipartisan bill aimed at increasing investment in “critical” harbor and port maintenance projects.
   The bill, Investing in America: Unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act (H.R. 1908), includes provisions to “guarantee that money intended to dredge the nation’s coastal and inland commercial ports would actually go toward harbor maintenance,” according to a joint statement from the Congressmen.
   Under the legislation, $18 billion would be allocated to port dredging and maintenance projects over the next 10 years, a 29 percent increase from current funding levels.
   What’s more, the bill would provide the necessary funding to dredge all federal commercial harbors to their constructed widths and depths and maintain them for the next decade, without increasing port user fees – the primary funding source for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) – or taxes.
   In order to fund the bill, the HMTF would be taken “off budget,” allowing the Army Corps of Engineers to use HMTF revenues solely on authorized maintenance activities. The legislation also preserves Congress’ authority to appropriate additional funds for harbor maintenance needs from the existing $9 billion balance in the fund.
   The HMTF is funded via a 0.125 percent ad valorem user fee on the value of imported cargo for use of coastal or inland ports by importers and domestic shippers, which is generally passed on to U.S. taxpayers in the form of higher prices for imported goods. 
   Revenues deposited into the HMTF are then appropriated to the Corps by Congress for harbor dredging and maintenance.
   According to Kelly and DeFazio, however, the HMTF collects “far more” revenues than Congress has provided to the Corps to maintain our harbors, including $8.8 billion currently sitting idle in the U.S. Treasury.
   The problem, the lawmakers say, is not a lack of funding, but rather that those funds aren’t always used for port projects as intended.
   “As a result, shippers continue to honor their commitment to pay for promised maintenance activities that the federal government then fails to carry out,” they said. “There are sufficient funds in the Trust Fund to meet the maintenance dredging needs of all Federally-authorized ports. The problem is that the Trust Fund is being treated by appropriators more like a slush fund.”
   According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the HMTF will collect an additional $18.5 billion in new revenues over the next decade, but federal appropriations from the fund over the next decade are only expected to total $14.3 billion. This would mean that the balance of the HMTF would double to $17.2 billion by fiscal year 2026.
   “The Investing in America: Unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act would finally reverse this trend and all money collected for harbor maintenance would actually go toward harbor maintenance,” Kelly and DeFazio said.
   “The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund was created by the Reagan administration to ensure that our nation’s ports and harbors, like the Port of Erie, would always be properly dredged and fully operational,” Kelly said of the bill. “Unfortunately, much of its annually collected revenue is no longer making it back to the ports where it is desperately needed. The result is the inexcusable deterioration of our ports from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, which negatively impacts our economy in Erie and nationwide.
   “Failing to maintain our ports and channels destroys American jobs and forces families to pay more money for the goods they need,” he said. “This commonsense, bipartisan bill will make sure that America’s ports and harbors are once again fully maintained, which will save and create jobs, grow businesses, and keep us competitive on the global stage.
   “We will ensure that the United States is equipped with a modern and efficient transportation system to meet the needs of a 21st century economy without raising a single dime in taxes.”
   “The Federal government has a responsibility to maintain the ports, harbors and waterways that support thousands of jobs and economic growth in communities across the country,” added DeFazio. “This bipartisan, common sense legislation guarantees that funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will not be diverted and will only be used for their intended purpose – harbor maintenance. Our legislation will create and sustain thousands of needed jobs, it will provide a tremendous boost to economic competitiveness, and it does all of this without adding a penny to the deficit.”

We are glad you’re enjoying the content

Sign up for a free FreightWaves account today for unlimited access to all of our latest content

By signing in for the first time, I give consent for FreightWaves to send me event updates and news. I can unsubscribe from these emails at any time. For more information please see our Privacy Policy.