The nation’s ports will receive an additional $36 million in funding next year as a result of an amendment championed by Congresswoman Janice Hahn (CA-44) that the U.S. House of Representatives passed during consideration of the energy and water appropriations bill two days ago.
“This is a major victory for our ports, allowing them to invest in dredging, maintenance and other improvements that will enable them to operate more efficiently and remain globally competitive. Our ports help drive the economy and create good paying American jobs, and I have worked to make sure that the money collected at our ports goes back to our ports. We have succeeded in meeting the targeted funding level for 2016, and I will continue fighting to have Congress make annual increases until 100% of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is used as intended to help our ports,” said Congresswoman Hahn.
Here is the video of Congresswoman Hahn speaking in support of increased harbor maintenance funding during a debate on her amendment:
Background on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund
Almost thirty years ago Congress established the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to pay for dredging and other maintenance needs for federally maintained commercial and recreational ports and harbors.
Shippers pay a tax on goods they import through U.S. ports, providing about $1.6 billion of “Harbor Maintenance Tax” revenue every year, enough to cover the cost of keeping the ports and harbors they rely on in good working order.
However, most of that funding never makes it back to the ports. Each year Congress appropriates only a fraction of the Harbor Maintenance Tax receipts, leaving $9 billion behind in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
As a result, ports across the nation are being denied the crucial funding they need to dredge and are filling with silt. In fact, the full depth and width of the ports are available less than 35% of the time, meaning ships are forced to carry less cargo or wait for high tide to safely come into harbor.
This costs the American economy billions of dollars each year.