On April 30, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (House T&I) Peter DeFazio (OR-04), introduced H.R. 440 the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act, which would unlock billions in already-collected fees to maintain federal ports and harbors. On May 8 the committee voted to move the legislation forward to the House of Representatives.
This bipartisan bill makes it easier for Congress to appropriate any funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for authorized harbor maintenance needs, including the existing $9.3 billion balance in HMTF. The legislation enables the expenditure of approximately $34 billion over the next decade, which will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge all federal harbors to their constructed widths and depths.
HMTF collects more revenue from shippers than Congress has appropriated to the Corps to maintain harbors. Approximately $9.3 billion in already collected revenue sits in the U.S. Treasury.
“As someone who represents a coastal district, 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. And I agree,” said Chairman DeFazio. “The federal government should be using the fees it collects at our ports for their intended purpose — harbor maintenance. By merely spending what is already being collected we can ensure our nation’s ports and harbors remain open for business and can continue to sustain our local, regional, and national economies.