Senators Introduce Legislation to Support American Ports (USA)

U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell introduced The Maritime Goods Movement Act for the 21st Century, new legislation that would support the American trade economy and significantly strengthen American ports.

The legislation would replace the outdated Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT), which is designed to fund the operation and maintenance of American ports, but currently incentivizes shippers to bypass American ports and move U.S. bound goods through Canada and Mexico instead.

With nearly 27 percent of international container cargo potentially at risk of moving to Canada from four West Coast ports, this trend could result in significant job losses.

This bill replaces the HMT with the Maritime Goods Movement User Fee, which would discourage shippers from diverting American-bound goods through Canadian or Mexican ports simply to avoid American taxes that fund vital infrastructure investments and keep American ports competitive in the global economy.

The Maritime Goods Movement Act for the 21st Century would also dramatically improve support for infrastructure investments at American ports by ensuring that all of the proceeds from the user fee are spent annually for port operation and maintenance. Currently, only half of the tax revenue collected through the HMT each year is actually spent on port upkeep, even though American ports are in desperate need of more maintenance investment.

This bill would enable full investment of fee collections, nearly doubling the amount of funds available to American ports each year.

These investments support American jobs and help the economy thrive.

The legislation would also set aside portions of the user fee to support critical low-use ports and to create a competitive grant program to improve the U.S. intermodal transportation system, which helps goods reach their intended destinations quickly and efficiently.

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Press Release, September 20, 2013

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