U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) has been selected as Port Person
of the Year by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the organization representing public ports throughout the Western Hemisphere. It is AAPA's most prestigious annual award, honoring an individual whose outstanding work or service has made a significant contribution to public port authorities and/or maritime commerce. The award will be presented to Senator Murray on March 23 at 8:30 a.m. during AAPA's annual Spring Conference, held at the Washington, D.C. Park Hyatt Hotel.
The Port of Seattle, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Port of Tacoma nominated Murray for the Port Person of the Year honor, which was ultimately decided by AAPA's Executive Committee upon review of all nominations. In its nomination of Senator Murray, the Port of Seattle wrote, "Senator Murray represents the sort of current and future champion we need in the U.S. Congress. She sits on the right committees, represents both large and small ports and has an undying commitment to our cause. She also possesses a unique sense of ports and what we are about, not just in the U.S. but also abroad."
Senator Murray is responsible for advancing numerous maritime initiatives in her role as Ranking Member of the Transportation, General Government and Treasury Appropriations Subcommittee and her seats on the Homeland Security Appropriations
Subcommittee and the Energy and Water Resources Appropriations Subcommittee. As Chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, she held hearings on port and cargo security. She helped institute the port security grant program providing
funds vital to help ports meet security requirements in accordance with the Maritime Transportation Security Act, and she continues to steadfastly advocate for much-needed increased funding for the grant program. Murray's efforts also resulted in a budget increase for the U.S. Coast Guard to help protect port assets with a greater presence of waterborne "SWAT" teams.
Senator Murray created and championed Operation Safe Commerce, a supply chain pilot project at three major seaport container load centers. The innovative program is designed to ensure tamper-proof security of ocean containers from foreign ports to their final U.S. destinations. In addition to obtaining an initial $58 million appropriated for the program in 2003, she was instrumental in securing continued funding in the FY 2004 appropriations bill.
Senator Murray has long supported increased funding for energy and water development projects that will benefit ports. Crusading against proposed cuts to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget for dredging projects, she played a key role in Congress' restoration of $288 million of a proposed $445 million budget cut. She has also fought to ensure that transportation funding, especially for freight movements, has been adequately addressed in TEA-21 and annual appropriations.
In its nomination, the Port of New York and New Jersey stated, "Senator Murray has long understood the economic importance of ports. She has committed herself to tap every federal resource to help improve and support transportation infrastructure. She also recognizes that mandated security requirements without the corresponding federal funding put ports in severe financial difficulties."
Senator Murray was elected in 1992, the first woman
to represent Washington State in the Senate. She was reelected by a wide margin in 1998. Her exposure to world trade began at an early age, when she frequently accompanied her father to trade shows to buy goods produced throughout the world for the variety store he owned. Through this experience she quickly gained an appreciation for the impact of international trade, realizing that it was responsible for the livelihood of her family and of people throughout the world.
Port of Tacoma Executive Director Andrea Riniker said, "Senator Murray has been one of Congress' leading champions for ports. We owe her an enormous debt of gratitude for her tireless efforts on port and cargo security, freight mobility and other issues affecting the port industry."
Previous recipients of the Port Person of the Year award include Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), 2003; U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick, 2002; U.S. Senator John Breaux (D-LA), 2001, and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), 2000.