The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) expressed their deep concern over the U.S. Senate’s approval yesterday of a fiscal 2020 appropriations bill that cuts funding by more than two-thirds to a U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD) program that provides critical grants for port infrastructure projects nationwide.
According to AAPA, MARAD’s Port Infrastructure Development Program, initiated last year and funded at $292.73 million, would be slashed to $91.6 million if the Senate’s appropriation mark is upheld in the final bill.
They added that not only would funding for the program be severely cut, the Senate bill requires deep-draft coastal ports and shallow-draft inland waterways ports share those funds, which wasn’t the case last year.
“It’s critical that the U.S. invest in its port infrastructure to address growing trade, which is the lifeblood of our economy” remarked Chris Connor, AAPA’s president and CEO. “MARAD’s Port Infrastructure Development Program is the first and only federal grant program dedicated to our nation’s ports, and direct investment into port-related infrastructure is a top AAPA priority.”
“Seaports are a crucial part of our nation’s transportation infrastructure and serve as vital freight gateways to the global marketplace for our military and for American farmers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers,” said Mr. Connor.
AAPA advocates that the program be funded at a minimum of $300 million for deep-draft coastal ports.