Napolitano Fights for the Harbor Maintenance Funds

House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairwoman Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) yesterday made an interesting statement on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Inland Waterways.

She delivered the following opening statement during the hearing titled: “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Investment in our Nation’s Waterways Matter”.

There is no question about the value of ports and harbors to our country and our economy. Oceangoing vessels carry more merchandise to trade by tonnage than all other modes of transportation combined. The case for federal investment is simple: we must use what we collect to maintain our ports to ensure and maintain America’s global competitiveness,” said Grace F. Napolitano.

She continued by saying that her region is home to the largest ports in the nation, the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. These ports handle over 40% of the exports and imports into the United States.

According to Napolitano, Los Angeles and Long Beach have invested billions of their own money to upgrade their infrastructure for the benefit of the entire nation so that goods can get to market across the country on time. But like other ports across the U.S., the success of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are only as strong as their partnership with the federal government in maintaining our infrastructure.

The shippers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach pay over $260 million annually in Harbor Maintenance Taxes but receive only $10 million back in harbor maintenance. As of a few years ago, my ports were receiving nearly nothing back, until working together with then-Ranking Member DeFazio, we were successful in enacting language in WRRDA 2014 that required the Army Corps of Engineers to allocate at least 10% of Harbor Maintenance Funds to all donor ports for expanded uses, or funds to continue to use their ports,” added Napolitano.

This Congress must address inequities in the harbor maintenance trust fund. It is not fair for harbors like mine to be paying so much in the tax and receiving so little. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues as we find common ground to address the continuing needs of all our ports and harbors. If past success is prologue, I look forward to working with now-Chair DeFazio in finding a solution for all,” concluded Grace F. Napolitano.

Yesterday’s hearing also focused on the importance of the Inland Waterways System to the nation’s heartland as they face challenges with an aging infrastructure system.