Connecting, Informing and Unifying the Voice of the Seaport Industry
Advocating for Ports from Washington
APPROPRIATIONS: The first Continuing Resolution (CR) of FY 2020 provided funds for all Federal agencies to operate through Nov. 21. On November 19, Congress passed, and the President signed a second CR providing funding through Dec. 20. The negotiations continue with alternatives, including the passage of all 12 appropriations in a single Omnibus bill, the passage of some appropriations, bundled as a ’minibus’, and a third CR for the others; a third CR for all federal agencies; or finally a government shutdown.
HMT: The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee minority staff provided a working draft of a Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) distribution provision in mid-November. The EPW requested AAPA's to review the document and provide comments. The proposal is based on input from AAPA, other stakeholders, EPW Committee Members and Senate Democratic leaders. The proposal has been distributed to all AAPA Port Directors. AAPA received one objection to the proposal while other ports have voiced support or support with issues. AAPA submitted all feedback to the EPW Committee Minority staff. AAPA’s support is essential to obtain HMT reform in upcoming law.
Staff Contact: Jim Walker
NEW TEAM MEMBERS: New members of the Government Relations team are conducting a ‘Listening Tour’ with AAPA members and policymakers. By meeting with port leadership, members of Congress, grant administrators, regulators, and more, the GovRel team is making its presence felt and ‘leaning in’ to all issues that affect our industry.
WORKING GROUP WITH CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (CBP): AAPA has convened a Working Group with CBP to address unprecedented facilities demands being placed on ports. The Working Group’s first meeting is in December and will include AAPA Security Committee leadership and officials from the CBP Office of Field Operations. The AAPA-led team is armed with stories about CBP demands on ports and continues to collect such stories from our members in order to convey to policymakers the unreasonableness of constantly shifting specifications and demands by CBP. AAPA requests ports members continue to record their experiences and submit these reports to Cary Davis, Jill Taylor, or Mark Dubina.
At the same time, AAPA is working with Congress on guidance to CBP that instructs the agency to be more transparent about its facilities planning. These are only first steps, but given CBP’s use of non-disclosure agreements , it will be helpful – perhaps eye-opening for policymakers - to have visibility into CBP’s tactics.
CHINA TARIFFS: While negotiating a rollback or at least a halt on new tariffs on Chinese imports, the Trump Administration continues to threaten a mid-December escalation in the trade war. New tariffs are scheduled for December 15th, these would hit most remaining consumer goods that have not yet been included in tariffs, meaning in total about 80% of imports from China. AAPA is an active member of the Americans for Free Trade Coalition in Washington, D.C., and has amplified concerns among key thought leaders with the Port of Los Angeles’s study, “By the Numbers: Jeopardizing the National Benefits of Trade through American’s Busiest Port Complex.”
USMCA: With a closing legislative window for Congress to pass USMCA, trade negotiators are trying to finish the delicate balance to allow enough Democrats to support an enforcement-strengthened deal. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will not bring USMCA to the House floor (under expedited procedures, called “TPA” or ‘fast track’) until enough of her caucus supports the deal. AAPA supports immediate ratification to increase trade among the U.S.’s largest partner, bloc.