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The U.S. House of Representatives sent a strong, bipartisan message October 28 in support of maritime when it approved HR 2440, the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

The measure was one of 17 being considered a process called suspension of the rules, which allows a bill to be approved without a floor debate and other formalities if it receives a two-thirds majority. The final count was 296 for and 109 against.

The legislation stipulates that the money in the fund – which is collected through the Harbor Maintenance Tax – be used for its intended purpose: upgrading and modernizing the nation’s harbors, ports and waterways. Established in 1986, the tax is levied on goods entering U.S. ports and designed to recover the operations and maintenance costs for deep draft and coastal waterways throughout the U.S. However, during the last 15 years, some of the money has been diverted to pay down the federal debt rather than benefit maritime.

During this period, the MTD has worked with others in the U.S. maritime community to require that all dollars collected in the fund be used as specified. The department joined with the Dredging Contractors of America (DCA) and the Associated General Contractors of America in a show of labor-management solidarity by sending statements of support to pass HR 2440.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome today of the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund,” said DCA Chief Executive Officer William Doyle. “Where the government collects taxes from taxpayers, and that tax is codified into federal law to be used for a specific purpose, then the tax must be used for that specific purpose. It’s very simple.”

Doyle spoke at the 2019 MTD Executive Board meeting in February.

The measure now proceeds to the Senate for its consideration.