The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today lauded passage on Wednesday of the House floor amendment to the fiscal 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill that increases the Corps of Engineers funding to meet the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) funding target included in the recently enacted Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).
The amendment, which added $57.6 million and was offset by decreasing funding in the energy side of the bill, was spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional PORTS Caucus, and U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI). The amendment passed on a strong 281-137 vote.
AAPA Government Relations Vice President Susan Monteverde said the quick passage of the amendment “is evidence of the impact of the strong education and outreach by the maritime industry and freight cargo community, including AAPA and its members, over the last few years related to the importance of fully using the HMT and its importance to maintaining our international competitiveness.”
AAPA worked closely with the PORTS Caucus to build support in Congress for meeting the first-year WRRDA HMT funding target. Last week, AAPA partnered with the PORTS Caucus to hold a briefing for congressional staff on the importance of hitting this WRRDA funding target. AAPA and House Appropriations Committee staff informed approximately 65 House staff and other stakeholders about the complex new programs WRRDA creates and identified the target funding levels that appropriators must meeting in order to access additional funding.
Congresswoman Janice Hahn said: “This amendment is a win for ports across the country and is critical to keeping our nation globally competitive. For too long, we have failed to fund critical infrastructure projects and our economy has suffered because of it. With the expansion of the Panama Canal nearing completion, we cannot wait any longer to ensure that our nation’s ports are prepared.”
According to Congressman Bill Huizenga, properly dredged harbors along the Great Lakes are critical to Michigan’s economy and vital to job creation throughout West Michigan. Passage of this amendment demonstrates that harbors including those in the Great Lakes are a priority.
Jonathan Gold, vice president of Supply Chain and Customs Policy for the National Retail Federation, also participated in the briefing and laid out how an improved waterway navigation system will strengthen the nation’s infrastructure efficiency.
Press Release, July 11, 2014