New Legislation Aims to Help American Ports

Posted by Eric Haun
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Jim McDermott

Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) introduced The Maritime Goods Movement Act for the 21st Century (H.R. 4105) legislation that would replace the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT), designed to fund the operation and maintenance of American ports.

McDermott said HMT is outdated and currently incentivizes shippers to bypass American ports and move goods bound for the United States through Canada and Mexico, amounting to $30 million in losses to maritime infrastructure, with losses expected to increase if current trends continue. This status quo imperils American jobs and industry, the Congressman added; for example, approximately 10,000 jobs, currently supported by activities at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, are at risk.

“The global competitiveness of our ports is on the line. We must reform the way we fund the operation and maintenance of ports in Washington State and across the nation,” said Congressman McDermott. “This legislation nearly doubles the amount of funding for our ports each year. $1.6 billion in increased funding will keep American ports competitive in global shipping, create new American jobs and energize a key sector of the American economy.”

Impact of H.R. 4105

According to McDermott, replacing the HMT with the Maritime Goods Movement User Fee would discourage shippers from diverting U.S.-bound goods through Canadian or Mexican ports. The Maritime Goods Movement Act for the 21st Century also significantly improves funding for infrastructure investments at American ports by guaranteeing that every dollar of User Fee revenue is spent on port operation and maintenance. At present, less than half of HMT revenue is spent on port upkeep. As a result, American ports are struggling to make the infrastructure investments they need to support American businesses.

Support for H.R. 4105
The Maritime Goods Movement Act has the support of a diverse group of 50 stakeholders and a coalition of naturally deep draft Puget Sound ports, Columbia River ports that require operation/maintenance, and small ports.

“Passage of this important legislation would increase the competitiveness of Washington’s ports by directing more federal investments into the Pacific Northwest’s maritime infrastructure. In introducing the bill, the state’s Congressional delegation is demonstrating a commitment to jobs both in Washington State as well as throughout the U.S,” said Clare Petrich, President, Port of Tacoma Commission.

“These reforms will save thousands of Puget Sound jobs at risk as more cargo is diverted to ports outside our region,” said Tay Yoshitani, CEO of the Port of Seattle. “We greatly appreciate the leadership of Rep. McDermott and his colleagues who are tackling one of the most important and challenging federal policy issues facing ports today.”
 

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