Rep. Kelly Champions Amendment to Protect Great Lakes Navigation System

Jul 11, 2014 Issues: Economy and Jobs

Rep. Kelly: “We’re talking about 128,000 American jobs…
It’s 3 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product.”


WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – co-chairman of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition – delivered remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday in support of an amendment he introduced to H.R. 4923, the Energy and Water Appropriations Act, 2015. The amendment ensures that H.R. 4923 complies with a provision within the recently-enacted Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA) which requires that 10 percent of federal dollars allocated for harbor maintenance funding be prioritized for the Great Lakes Navigation System (GLNS). The amendment, co-authored by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), was passed unanimously by a voice vote. The House passed H.R. 4923 yesterday evening by a bipartisan vote of 253-170.

Excerpts of Rep. Kelly’s floor remarks:

“This amendment simply requires that the harbor maintenance funding provided in [H.R. 4923] complies with the recently-enacted WRRDA law and that the 10 percent funding requirement for the Great Lakes will be met. The Water Resource Reform and Redevelopment Act  of 2014,  which this body passed by a 412-4 vote, includes an allocation for the Great Lakes Navigation System of 10 percent of harbor maintenance funding provided above the 2012 baseline.”

“This is a bill that really dwells on the Great Lakes, and what a great gift from God this nation was given with the Great Lakes. One-fifth of the world’s fresh water – not one-fifth of Pennsylvania’s fresh water, certainly not one fifth of America’s fresh water, but one-fifth of the world’s fresh water – is in our Great Lakes.”

“There’s also a commerce element there. Now where does that fit in and why do we talk about that? Here’s why: We’re talking about jobs. We’re talking about jobs in our Great Lakes. We’re talking about 128,000 American jobs. Over 33.6 billion dollars in annual revenue. And it’s three percent of our nation’s gross domestic product.”

“This commonsense amendment just directs the Army Corps of Engineers to use the allocated funds as directed. We talk about the Great Lakes and we talk about it an awful lot and I think sometimes we forget how great this gift is and what our responsibility is to maintain it. Sure, it’s a gift from God, but it’s up to men to maintain it. In this great body, looking at this opportunity we have right now to actually direct funding — that makes sure that we can still navigate through our Great Lakes, that we can dredge our harbors, that we can do breakwater maintenance, that we can do jetties; all those things that are necessary to keep that line open.”

“The Great Lakes are truly our door to the world. It is our responsibility and it falls on our shoulders right now to support that. … I urge our colleagues to support this amendment and keep open our Great Lakes door to the world.”

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI): “I’d like to thank my friend Rep. Kelly for joining me in offering this amendment to strengthen commerce and recreation on the Great Lakes. Inadequate harbor funding and maintenance has resulted in a severe backlog of dredging needs from the Port of Duluth-Superior in my district, to the Saint Lawrence Seaway. We must ensure our Great Lakes receive the funding they need to keep industries and economies moving.”

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH): “I commend Representative Kelly for offering this important effort in highlighting the importance of the Great Lakes. … It’s just so great to have someone with your commitment to the Great Lakes. … So to have this kind of work, by yourself, by the chairman of our subcommittee Mr. Simpson, by (Congresswoman) Candice Miller (R-MI), by Congressman Visclosky (D-IN), and so many others that work on Great Lakes issues, it’s wonderful to have this team put together and to see that we’ve done a better job for our Great Lakes in this bill and in past bills. … I just wanted to commend [Rep. Kelly] … and I know the people who are listening from the Great Lakes region appreciate the attention and what we do in this bill to make sure that those lakes are maintained.”

James H.I. Weakley, President of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force and Lake Carriers’ Association: “We deeply appreciate that Congressman Kelly has kept the effort to end the dredging crisis on track. This amendment leaves no doubt that Congress fully intends for the Corps to allocate 10 percent of the increased expenditures from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to the Great Lakes Navigation System.”

NOTE: H.R. 4923 – the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 – provides funding for the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, and vital national defense nuclear weapons activities. The legislation provides a total of $34 billion in discretionary funding, which is $50.5 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $326.9 million above the President’s request. The bill prioritizes funding for national security, providing increases for nuclear weapons programs above fiscal year 2014, and protects funding for critical national and regional waterways.