AAPA: Senate bill would slash port infrastructure grants

The following is text of a news release from the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA):

(WASHINGTON) — The American Association of Port Authorities is very concerned with the U.S. Senate’s approval Thursday of a fiscal 2020 appropriations bill that cuts funding by more than two-thirds to a U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MarAd) program that provides critical grants for port infrastructure projects nationwide.

MarAd’s Port Infrastructure Development Program, initiated last year and funded at $292.73 million, would be slashed to $91.6 million if the Senate’s appropriation mark is upheld in the final bill. Not only would funding for the program be severely cut, the Senate bill requires deep-draft coastal ports and shallow-draft inland waterways ports share those funds, which wasn’t the case last year. AAPA advocates that the program be funded at a minimum of $300 million for deep-draft coastal ports.

AAPA will fight hard to achieve a higher funding level for the program in the final congressional negotiations for the bill. The House approved $225 million for the program in FY 2020.  

“It’s critical that the U.S. invest in its port infrastructure to address growing trade, which is the lifeblood of our economy,” said Chris Connor, AAPA’s president and CEO. “MarAd’s Port Infrastructure Development Program is the first and only federal grant program dedicated to our nation’s ports, and direct investment into port-related infrastructure is a top AAPA priority.”

America’s deep-draft ports support employment of nearly 31 million American jobs, $378 billion in taxes and 26 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

“Seaports are a crucial part of our nation’s transportation infrastructure and serve as vital freight gateways to the global marketplace for our military and for American farmers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers,” said Connor.

Other USDOT grant programs that ports support in Thursday’s Senate appropriations allocations include the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program, the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program, the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program, and MarAd’s America’s Marine Highways program.

“Because ports are the center of trade and transportation, AAPA will continue to aggressively advocate that port-related infrastructure programs be a high priority in annual federal appropriations. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to secure the funds needed that enable seaports to continue delivering prosperity,” said Connor.

By Professional Mariner Staff