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Rep. Michael Grimm

Pointing to the Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond who had preceded him at the podium for the MTD executive board meeting in Orlando, U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) proclaimed the two work together and with others to show there is bipartisan support for maritime and organized labor in the halls of Congress.

Looking at the board members and guests in the room, he said, “I stand with each and every one of you.”

He promised that he will continue to serve as a bridge between labor and his political party.

“When you come in and give me the information, I’m using it to inform the people on the Republican side of the aisle” about the issues, Grimm told the assembled body.

Citing the deciding vote he cast for a vitally important project labor agreement and his strong support for such maritime programs as the Jones Act, dredging and the Maritime Security Program, he talked about the American Dream, and how working people, from day one, made it possible.

The New York congressman stressed no one has to tell him the importance of organized labor. He said he sees it every time he goes back to his home district, where he is surrounded by the architectural marvels and the infrastructure projects that were built by the toil and sweat of working men and women.

Pledging his honor as a Marine, a former FBI agent and as a son whose parents instilled in him a love of the trade union movement, he promised that no matter what, he would never back down from doing what was right.

Grimm spoke about how to we get America back on track: “It all began with the ports …

Ports started commerce in this country.”

He told the board he doesn’t understand why the federal government habitually underfunds dredging in this country and fails to utilize the monies contained in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMT) for their intended purpose.

It’s “foolishness” not to use the monies in the HMT to maintain our competitive edge, he stressed.  People may talk about the well-paying jobs of the future, but “maritime is the industry that creates them.”

While investments in advanced technology and other things may yield results, he is not certain that is where the nation should expend its resources. He called for more money for maritime and infrastructure projects.

The congressman added that with international trade set to double over the next 15 years, port modernization and other aspects of the maritime industry will become more, not less, important.

Additionally, he cited Programs like “Food for Peace” as not being just about feeding the poor, but they also are about our national security.