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Congressman Sires Applauds the House Passing Important Harbor Infrastructure Legislation

Oct 29, 2019
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) issued the following statement regarding the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2440, the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act, to authorize our ports and harbors to tap into money necessary for infrastructure upgrades:

“Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2440, which invests more money into our port infrastructure and which I voted for. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, navigation channels at our country’s busiest ports are available less than 35 percent of the time due to infrastructure shortcomings. As shipping technology advances and ships themselves get bigger, our port infrastructure is struggling to keep up. This means fewer shippers can use our ports and harbors, which impacts jobs and limits the goods that come to our shelves. The Harbor Maintenance Tax helps address this as the tax is levied on importers and shippers who use our ports, and the money is supposed to be set aside to be used specifically for port and harbor infrastructure projects.

“However, due to a discrepancy between congressionally-appropriated spending and the total amount of taxes collected, there is currently more money in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) than Congress has authorized ports and harbors to tap into. As a result, there is $9.3 billion in HMTF tax revenue surplus that has been collected but is unspent.

“I supported this legislation during its markup in the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and on the House Floor because the American people have a right to see their tax dollars used for their intended purpose. This bill authorizes the appropriation of additional funds for harbor maintenance needs from the existing $9.3 billion balance in the HTMF. As a result, over the next decade, approximately $34 billion in infrastructure investment, and the jobs that come with it, will be used at coastal and inland harbors.

“There is a need for port and harbor infrastructure and the means to take care of it. This bill does that.”