Last week, the U.S. House passed HR 2440, bipartisan legislation authored by Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter DeFazio. It unlocks the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
It also increases investments in critical harbor and port projects helping ensure that money intended to dredge the nation’s coastal and inland commercial ports actually go toward harbor maintenance. The legislation passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 296 to 109, with 79 Republicans voting in favor of the bill.
“Bipartisanship in Washington is not dead,” said DeFazio. “This is a win, years in the making, for our nation’s coastal communities, and members of the maritime workforce. I’ve heard from countless fishermen, ship, tug and barge operators about the critical need for safe and well-maintained ports and harbors that allow them to do their jobs and keep our economy moving. These are fees already collected by the federal government and it’s about time the money is used for its intended purpose—to ensure our ports and harbors are fully operational. I encourage a swift passage through the Senate and look forward to the President signing it into law.”
HR 2440 makes it easier for Congress to appropriate any funds collected in the Trust Fund for authorized harbor maintenance needs, including the existing $9.5 billion balance in the Trust Fund. The legislation enables the expenditure of approximately $34 billion over the next decade, which will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to dredge all federal harbors to their constructed widths and depths.