Ports Fare Well in 2020 U.S. House Committee Funding

Port of New Orleans
Port of New Orleans

By The Maritime Executive 05-23-2019 06:27:53

Funding for port infrastructure programs advocated by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) fared well in the mark-up by the House Committee on Appropriations on May 22.

Although the $225 million for MARAD’s Port Infrastructure Development Program in 2020 is $68 million below the fiscal 2019 enacted level, the President’s fiscal 2020 budget request didn’t include funding for this program. The $15 million for the America’s Marine Highway Program is a first for a House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) appropriations bill. The $1 billion for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) is $100 million above the fiscal 2019 enacted level, and the same level as the President’s budget request.

The House T-HUD bill also includes $1.75 billion for discretionary Highway Infrastructure Programs, which is $1.5 billion below the fiscal 2019 enacted level, but $1.45 billion above the President’s budget request. Furthermore, the bill contains $350 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant program, which is $95 million above the fiscal 2019 enacted level and $20 million above the President’s budget request.

AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle noted that second-year funding for the nation’s only dedicated port infrastructure program through the U.S. Department of Transportation came in at $225 million in the FY 2020 T-HUD appropriations bill, while the bill contains $15 million for marine highway projects, which are top AAPA priorities.

“We thank House T-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Price (D-NC) and Ranking Member Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) for their continued leadership in investing our nation’s port infrastructure,” said Nagle. “The $225 million dedicated specifically for port infrastructure is an important step in building out our multimodal freight network. Additionally, the $15 million included for the America’s Marine Highway Program is a great tool for ensuring that America’s goods movement network is fully integrated with highways, railways and ports.

“The $1 billion targeted for the BUILD discretionary grant program also continues to be an essential multimodal development resource for U.S. port authorities and their business partners.”

AAPA has long advocated for dedicated port infrastructure development funding and recently identified $66 billion in port-related infrastructure needs over the next decade to build projects that better connect ports to the freight network, with rail and road access points. Nagle says this funding is needed to ensure U.S. job creation, economic growth and tax fairness.

The Senate has not yet announced the mark-up of its fiscal 2020 T-HUD appropriations bill.