Mario Díaz-Balart Accepts AAPA’s 2019 Port Person Award

AAPA CEO Kurt Nagle (left) and PortMiami Port Director Juan Kuryla (right) present Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart with AAPA's 2019 Port Person of the Year Award
AAPA CEO Kurt Nagle (left) and PortMiami Port Director Juan Kuryla (right) present Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart with AAPA's 2019 Port Person of the Year Award

Published May 18, 2019 9:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

Following a meeting of the Congressional PORTS Caucus on Capitol Hill last week,  U.S. Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL), the House Appropriations Committee’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Subcommittee Ranking Member, accepted his 2019 “Port Person of the Year” award from the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) for his stalwart advocacy of the port industry.

AAPA selected Díaz-Balart for the award in March.

“In his more than 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Díaz-Balart has consistently championed legislation to benefit our nation’s ports,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO. “Through both words and deeds, he’s demonstrated a keen understanding of how ports play a central role in driving our nation’s economy and creating good American jobs.”

Díaz-Balart, who also co-chairs the Florida Ports Caucus, is now serving his ninth term representing Florida’s 25th Congressional District. In the fiscal 2019 T-HUD appropriations bill, he negotiated language which resulted in nearly $293 million in first-ever funding being appropriated for the Port Infrastructure Development Program within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. The program’s goal is to fund infrastructure improvements that enhance U.S. port competitiveness and the ability of coastal seaports to effectively handle the movement of goods in America’s supply chain.

“I’m truly honored to receive the 2019 Port Person of the Year Award,” said Diaz-Balart. "I'm fortunate to be in a position where I can craft legislation that has a direct impact on ports, not only in our state but across our nation.  In FY 2019 alone, I was able to allocate nearly $300 million to improve our nation’s seaports. I will continue to be a tireless advocate for our ports, which are integral drivers of economic growth, and I thank the AAPA for this humbling recognition.”

PortMiami Director and CEO Juan M. Kuryla, noted: “This recognition is well deserved. Having engaged with PortMiami and numerous other ports over the years through his position on the Florida Ports Caucus, Rep. Díaz-Balart has consistently heard the need for dedicated funding for port projects. His first-hand knowledge of ports has a direct influence on his work in Congress, where he will continue to fight for dedicated port project funding and for legislation that benefits the port industry.”

Kuryla added that Díaz-Balart, through his leadership on the House Appropriations Committee, “is having a direct influence on updating and modernizing port infrastructure, and he continues to be a vocal advocate for the port industry.”

Each year, AAPA presents its Port Person of the Year award to an individual or individuals who have made significant contributions to the port industry.  Recent award recipients include: U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) – 2018; U.S. Rep. Steve Scalice (R-LA) – 2017; U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) – 2016; U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Lic. Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa, General Coordinator of Mexican Ports and Merchant Marine – 2015; U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) – 2014; U.S. Reps. Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) – 2013; U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-FL) – 2012; U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) – 2011; Adm. Thad W.