U.S. Ports Still Underfunded

The U.S. Coast Guard needs about $7.4 billion to comply with port security requirements signed into law in 2002. The U.S. Senate spent last week arguing about how to raise the money to fund security improvements at the nation?s commercial ports. The use of the customs fees would hurt other programs, and a plan to raise more money through additional maritime fees was voted down.

Some senators complained that the Bush Administration never proposed spending until this year, when it asked for $46 million for port security and suggested that the private sector help pay for the program. Senators John McCain and Ernest Hollings said that they could raise an additional $400 million by imposing user fees.

The issue at hand is that $15 billion is collected in U.S. Customs fees, and only $4 billion is used on ports. Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) said, ?Let?s use the custom fees for the people who have been paying for port security, similar to the Highway Trust Fund that uses federal gasoline tax to fund transportation projects.?