22 Senators Show Support for Dredging
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) applauded yesterday a “Dear Colleague” letter to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Appropriations that was signed by 22 senators, urging appropriators to meet the dredging funding commitments made in the 2014 Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA), passed in May.
That letter, together with a similar one circulated through the House earlier this fall to House Appropriations Committee leadership, supports the “Hit the HMT Target!” campaign to impress upon lawmakers the need to annually fund what was authorized in WRRDA.
In July, the House approved fiscal 2015 appropriations that hit the HMT target, thanks to a floor amendment put forth by Cong. Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Cong. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) that passed overwhelmingly 281-137.
However, the Senate subcommittee report, issued in July with no further action taken on it since then, proposed an amount that is $100 million shy of the first-year WRRDA appropriations goal.
“We believe these letters demonstrate overwhelming support by organizations and individuals across the nation, as well as from many members of Congress, to meet the funding levels and provisions Congress approved in WRRDA last May,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO. “WRRDA established a new distribution approach to address increased Harbor Maintenance Tax-related funds, including more equity for donor ports, emerging harbors, underserved and Great Lakes ports. It’s now important that appropriators provide the HMT funding set forth in WRRDA 2014.”
He added, “Although ships continue to get bigger, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that constructed channel depths and widths at 59 of America’s busiest ports are only available about half the time. This increases costs to consumers and greatly reduces the ability of our ports to be internationally competitive.”