The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) said it commends steps taken this week by President Barack Obama, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) toward increasing the investment in transportation infrastructure, including needed infrastructure in and connecting to America’s seaports.
AAPA President Kurt Nagle stated, “We’re extremely pleased to see the heightened bipartisan recognition that the efficient movement of goods, including trade through seaports and connecting infrastructure, must be a priority at the federal level to enhance U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace. This trade generates more than 13 million jobs, accounts for over a quarter of our GDP and brings in over $200 billion in tax revenues annually.”
In Minnesota on Wednesday, President Obama announced the availability of $600 million in TIGER grants for this fiscal year, and outlined the basics of his Administration’s proposal for a four-year, $302 billion transportation reauthorization bill. Key provisions to ports include:
A new $10 billion multimodal freight grant program for rail, highway and port projects that address the greatest needs for the efficient movement of goods across the country and abroad;
Permanent authorization of the TIGER (Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery) grant program and more than a doubling of funding, to $5 billion over the course of the four-year bill;
$4 billion to attract private investment in transportation infrastructure, including through the existing TIFIA (Transportation Investment Financing and Innovation Act) program; and,
The goal of improving project delivery and the federal permitting and regulatory review process.
On the same day, as part of a broad tax reform package, House Ways and Means Chairman Camp’s proposal would dedicate “$126.5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to fully fund highway and infrastructure investment through the HTF for eight years.” The Highway Trust Fund, which finances surface transportation programs within the Department of Transportation, has been incurring growing shortfalls over recent years, with outlays surpassing excise tax revenue by tens of billions of dollars.
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T & I) Committee held two events aimed at gaining support for a surface transportation reauthorization bill. The first event was a roundtable with stakeholders on the reauthorization, led by Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV), and today, the T &I Committee’s Subcommittee on Highways held a hearing titled “Improving the Nation’s Highway Freight Network." During the hearing, Chairman Tom Petri (R-WI) specifically noted the importance of “first and last mile connections” between highways and other modes of transportation, like ports.
Mr. Nagle concluded, “The overwhelmingly bipartisan passage of water resources legislation in both the Senate and the House last year, the importance President Obama continues to express in investing in America’s ports, and the many calls from policymakers on both sides of the aisle on the unquestioned need to improve America’s transportation infrastructure make us hopeful that all parties will be able to work together to identify a means to provide the needed investments in port-related infrastructure.”