By Dean Franks, senior vice president, Congressional relations, ARTBA

The House of Representatives Oct. 28 passed a bill to mandate that all future incoming revenues to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) be spent on the port and waterway projects for which they were intended within the next year of receipts.  The legislation would also authorize the expenditure of the accumulated $9.5 billion in HMTF revenues since taxes for these projects were created in 1986.

This issue has plagued federal port and harbor investment for years, where Congress and the administration would spend less than what was collected annually for these projects, allowing for the gradual build up of funds. This bill is championed by Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) in the House.  Similar legislation is also a priority for Senate Appropriations committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

The following day, DeFazio’s committee passed bipartisan legislation to reauthorize federal wastewater programs.  H.R. 1497, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2019, would authorize spending for clean water State Revolving Funds (SRF) – the financing mechanism the federal government uses to support critical waste water projects at the state and local level.

ARTBA joined fellow stakeholders in an Oct. 23 letter of support for the legislation, which authorizes $15 billion in waste water investments over the five-year life of the bill.  The letter of support can be viewed here.

ARTBA will continue advocating for these critical infrastructure investment bills until enactment.