House Unanimously Passes Kelly Amendment to Protect Harbor Commerce on Great Lakes

Jul 11, 2013
House Unanimously Passes Kelly Amendment  to Protect Harbor Commerce on Great Lakes

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WASHINGTON — Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), co-chairman of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, introduced a bipartisan amendment in the House of Representatives yesterday evening to H.R. 2609, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, to ensure that funds for harbor maintenance are used as intended and not diverted for other purposes. The amendment, co-authored by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), was passed unanimously by a voice vote.

Excerpts of Rep. Kelly’s floor remarks:

“We all know – and have known for years – that we have a problem when funds are collected for an intended purpose, sometimes they don’t get used that way. … There are a number of reasons for this, but until we can get more funds for their intended purpose, Mr. Duffy and I oppose expanding authorities for the use of this funding. This is a matter of fairness.”

“The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund has carried a surplus since 1997. At the end of fiscal year 2012, the Trust Fund had an estimated $7 billion surplus that was not spent on harbor maintenance. Yet, our harbors are under-maintained. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that full channel dimensions at the nation's busiest 59 ports are available less than 35 percent of the time. That’s unacceptable, and just from an economic standpoint, should be unacceptable too.”

“Ships, especially those in my district and throughout the Great Lakes, are ‘light-loading.’ When that happens, American economic productivity is lost. … We can’t even load the ships to their capacity because we haven’t maintained our harbors, we haven’t dredged our harbors. This is an affront to commerce. It goes back to the very beginning of what the Founding Fathers thought about — commerce is so important… getting products from Point A to Point B.”

“We must ensure that the moneys intended for dredging are not siphoned off for other reasons.  Our amendment will prohibit moneys from being used by the Administration to expand the authorized uses of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund moneys.”

“This is about commerce. This is about fairness. This is about growing our economy, being able to have access to the entire world. … We’re letting these harbors go unmaintained, we’re not dredging them, and we’re causing a huge problem in commerce. That’s the problem. We can’t get from Point A to Point B. We’re lowering the efficiency of our businesses and their ability to get products out there.”

“The whole purpose of this is to use the money that’s collected for the intention that it was collected. … I don’t want to see that [money] get diverted any other ways than we’ve seen happen already. We’re already missing the boat, no pun intended.”

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