The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has lauded H.R. 2028, the U.S. House of Representatives’ fiscal 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations bill that passed last week, together with two bi-partisan amendments included in the bill.
Of particular interest to AAPA is the portion of the bill that funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation program, which manages improvements and maintenance of federal navigation channels at U.S. ports.
The first amendment, offered by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) and Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA), increased the appropriation for Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) spending by $36.3 million. The second amendment, offered by Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), T&I Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Ranking Member Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Congressional Ports Caucus Co-Chair Ted Poe (R-TX), ensured that the expenditures from the Corps of Engineers’ Operations & Maintenance account complied with the intent of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014.
“Even as we celebrate success in the House to pay for critical maintenance to America’s deep-draft navigation channels and harbors, we must immediately turn attention to the Senate’s appropriation bill, which needs to match the House bill’s HMT spending levels and funding allocation language,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO. “For the sake of the more than 21 million jobs generated by the seaport industry, it’s crucial that America’s deep-draft navigation channels be adequately maintained. The fact is that while over a quarter of the nation’s $17.4 trillion economy is accounted for by port cargo activity, neither the waterside nor landside connections with our ports are receiving adequate federal investment, which puts our economy at risk and reduces America’s competitiveness in global markets.”
WRRDA 2014 established target amounts for Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) funding levels, as well as an allocation formula to address tax fairness and donor equity issues for distribution of the nationwide HMT tax collections.