Legislation introduced to unlock Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund

Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) jointly introduced legislation to effectively take the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund off budget. The bill would achieve “full use” of the Harbor Maintenance Tax by making tax revenue directly available to the Corps of Engineers and bypassing the annual Congressional appropriations process. If enacted, the Corps’ coastal operation and maintenance program would jump from approximately $1.3 billion/year to $1.8 billion/year. Based on current estimates, this level of spending should be sufficient to restore all harbor channels to their constructed dimensions.

The legislation would do much to address harbor maintenance needs in the Great Lakes. These needs include a $200 million backlog of dredging work, $250 million to rehabilitate breakwaters and jetties, and $115 million to rehabilitate the Soo Locks. The Kelly/DeFazio partnership is significant in that Congressman Kelly is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, and Congressman DeFazio is the ranking Democratic member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

As President Trump promotes a trillion dollar infrastructure investment, Kelly and DeFazio hope to highlight that it is easiest to start with ports. There is no need to raise taxes or find a new source of revenue. The funding source already exists. The money is being collected. The government just needs to spend it.

To view a copy of the letter submitted by American Great Lakes Ports Association in support of the legislation, click here.

Maritime Editorial