WASHINGTON, DC – Fighting to protect American jobs and ports while restoring public trust in the tax code – Congressman Jeff Landry (R, LA-03) led a bi-partisan coalition of 34 House Members in sending a letter to the Budget Committee requesting the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) is lawfully utilized for harbor dredging.
In 1986, Congress established the HMTF – financed through a 0.125 percent tax on cargo imported through a port or moved between two domestic ports – to fund up to 100 percent of dredging costs at domestic ports and waterways. However, recent administrations have ignored the law – utilizing only one-half to two-thirds of the revenue for harbor maintenance and holding the rest for increased federal spending in other areas of the budget.
The letter urges the Budget Committee to apportion all proceeds of the HMTF to sustain and dredge America’s harbors.
“At a time when the Unemployment Rate continues to hover around nine percent, we believe the best way to utilize the revenue in the HMTF is by fully committing these resources to activities which increase U.S. job-producing international trade, namely, dredging of our nations harbors. On a more basic level, it is fundamentally wrong for the government to impose a tax for one purpose, only to utilize the proceeds from this tax to fund an entirely different program,” wrote Landry and his colleagues.
Landry, whose district has the most domestic maritime industry jobs in the nation and transports much of the nation’s energy-based resources and agricultural exports, said properly utilizing the HTMF is critical in creating jobs and protecting America’s commercial waterways. “Most ports and harbors require annual maintenance dredging to combat sediment, which naturally accumulates in most waterways. If left unchecked – this sediment increases shipping costs, lessens our ability to export products, and prevents employers from creating new U.S. jobs.”
Congressman Jim Clyburn (D, SC-06), the House’s Assistant Minority Leader, is hopeful the bi-partisan support of the letter will influence the Budget Committee and ensure all of the funding collected by the Harbor Maintenance Tax is used for the maintenance of America’s harbors: “Our ports are significant economic engines and are vital to our nation’s economic future. We must ensure they remain viable through proper maintenance or we risk losing our competitive edge.”
The full list of letter signers are Congressmen Jeff Landry (R, LA-03), Jo Bonner (R, AL-01), Bill Cassidy (R, LA-06), Jim Clyburn (D, SC-06), Peter DeFazio (D, OR-04), Jeff Duncan (R, SC-03), Trey Gowdy (R, SC-04), Sam Graves (R, MO-06), Andy Harris (R, MD-01), Bill Huizenga (R, MI-02), Jay Inslee (D, WA-01), Walter Jones (R, NC-03), Dennis Kucinich (D, OH-10), Leonard Lance (R, NJ-07), Steve LaTourette (R, OH-14), Frank LoBiondo (R, NJ-02), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R, WA-05), Candice Miller (R, MI-10), Alan Nunnelee (R, MS-01), Steven Palazzo (R, MS-04), Ron Paul (R, TX-14), Bill Posey (R, FL-15), Steven Rothman (D, NJ-09), Steve Scalise (R, LA-01), Aaron Schock (R, IL-18), Tim Scott (R, SC-01), Bill Shuster (R, PA-09), Albio Sires (D, NJ-13), Mike Thompson (D, CA-01), Fred Upton (R, MI-06), Greg Walden (R, OR-02), Joe Wilson (R, SC-02), David Wu (D, OR-01), and Don Young (R, AK-01).