Congressman Lowenthal Statement On H.R.2440

May 8, 2019
Speech and Floor Statement
Congressman Lowenthal (CA-47) today delivered the following statement on H.R. 2440, the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act, during the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on May 8, 2019. Remarks are as written:

Thank you, Chair DeFazio and Subcommittee Chair Napolitano for your hard work on this legislation.

This bill is an important first step to address the substantial budget issue we have repeatedly run into as we work to modernize our ports and harbors. I am glad this Committee is acting within our first six months to address this glaring problem.

As Chair DeFazio has mentioned, for years money collected for harbor maintenance has been diverted for other activity or used to paper over holes in budget math. It's far past time we right this wrong and ensure that this money is spent on its intended purpose—maintaining our ports and harbors.

But I also want to echo the comments made by Chair Napolitano.

As we work today to unlock the full Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund resources, we must commit to addressing larger inequities in the allocation of these funds this Congress, in the next Water Resources Development Act.

These inequities play out across the country, but they are particularly acute in my region.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach drive the American economy—handling over a third of our imports and exports.

They collect nearly $380 million in harbor maintenance taxes each year but receive less than 1.5 percent of those funds back to pay for needed water infrastructure improvements.

I hope to work with Chair Napolitano and Members on both sides of the aisle to address these inequities and make positive reforms to harbor maintenance that will enhance the productivity of our entire port and maritime transportation system.

I suggest that we use the American Association of Port Authorities' industry-wide agreement as a starting place to enact these reforms.

This agreement allows for donor and energy transfer ports to fund needed improvements while ensuring that all ports receive the resources they need for operations and maintenance.

Thank you and I yield back.