Ports first, politics second
October 27, 2011
Can Republicans and Democrats agree on anything? The American Association of Port Authorities certainly hopes so.
At yesterday’s hearing of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, AAPA Chairman, Jerry Bridges posed another rhetorical question: “Is the United States Prepared for 21st Century Trade Realities?”
The hearing focused exclusively on the economic contributions of U.S. seaports and the need for adequate federal investments in both land and waterside infrastructure in and around those facilities.
Bridges emphasized that “while ports are planning for the future, the federal government has not kept pace with the industry or our international competitors.”
Much of the discussion among subcommittee members focused on the need for full utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) to maintain federal navigation channels. Members on both sides of the aisle discussed the need to remedy the HMT issue.
LM was told that witnesses and subcommittee members also agreed on the need for a long-term surface transportation authorization bill to address landside infrastructure needs. Bridges emphasized AAPA’s strong support for advancing a reauthorization bill, including the need for a greater focus on freight transportation, improved connections to seaports and the inclusion of a maritime title in the bill.
AAPA president, Kurt Nagle chimed in after the hearing, contributing this insight and call for political collaboration:
“Both the Republican and Democratic subcommittee members in attendance agreed that the federal government needs to invest in both the waterside and landside access to ports for the U.S. to be competitive going forward. There was much consensus that the Harbor Maintenance Tax revenues need to be fully spent for their intended purpose and not siphoned off to other (so-called) federal priorities.”
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