Chair DeFazio Applauds Inclusion of Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Language in the CARES Act
Washington, DC – Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) offered his support for the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act,” which includes critical protections proposed by the Committee for workers in the Nation’s transportation sectors as well as language to help ensure funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are used for their intended purpose—harbor maintenance. Fixing the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) has been a long-standing priority for Chair DeFazio.
“Unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund has always been about two things - safety and jobs,” said Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR). “For over twenty years, I’ve heard from countless fishermen, shippers, and vessel, tug, and barge operators about the importance of safe and predictable access to our ports and harbors which is critical to protecting our fishermen and maritime jobs and to keeping our local, regional, and national economy moving. Enacting this common sense, bipartisan provision is a long time coming for our nation’s coastal communities, and members of the maritime workforce. Requiring that fees already collected by the federal government are used for their intended purpose—to ensure our ports and harbors are fully operational--will help ensure our ports and harbors are fully maintained and that our nation can quickly recover once this outbreak is contained and over. While this bill does not address the almost $10 billion in previously collected funds sitting idle in the Trust Fund, I will not stop fighting until all of the funds collected from shippers are used for their intended purpose – maintaining the safety and reliability of our nation’s ports.”
The CARES Act included the portion of Chair DeFazio’s H.R. 2440, the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act, which creates a discretionary cap adjustment up to the level of funds deposited into the HMTF in the previous year (collections plus interest) to be used for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations and maintenance activities. Under the CARES Act, appropriators can only exclude the prior year’s deposits from the discretionary budget caps, or approximately $1.8 billion. In contrast, H.R. 2440 allows appropriators to exclude from the discretionary caps both the previous year’s deposits AND the estimated $10.1 billion balance previously deposited by shippers into the HMTF.
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