U.S. Ports Pleased With Fiscal 2018 Omnibus Funding Bill
Legislation is first step toward funding the President’s goal of strengthening America’s infrastructure
U.S. members of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) – the unified and recognized voice of America’s seaports – have increased confidence today their key priorities will be addressed after passage of an omnibus spending package to fund the federal government through September 30, 2018.
The spending bill, which President Trump signed this afternoon, contains funding for a number of AAPA’s top infrastructure and intermodal priorities, both on the landside and the waterside.
On the landside, the omnibus:
Triples funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary, multimodal infrastructure grant program to $1.5 billion, up from $500 million in fiscal 2017, with 30 percent dedicated to rural communities to reflect the President’s priority for rural infrastructure.
Raises by $1 billion, to $45 billion, funding in fiscal 2018 from the Highway Trust Fund for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHA) surface transportation program. The funding mirrors the FAST Act-authorized levels and provides an extra $2.5 billion in discretionary highway funding, for a total of $3.5 billion for surface transportation (roads, bridges and tunnels) over fiscal 2017 levels.
On the waterside, the omnibus:
Includes $6.83 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), an increase of $789 million from fiscal 2017 and $1.83 billion above the President’s budget request. The agreement provides $1.4 billion for Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) spending, which exceeds the fiscal 2018 target of $1.34 billion and the fiscal 2017 funding level of $1.3 billion. The agreement also increases navigation construction funding, includes funding for six new studies and five new construction starts, and provides $40 million for the Donor and Energy Transfer Ports Program, up from $28 million in fiscal 2017.
Also important to America’s ports in the new omnibus is:
Level funding at $100 million for the Port Security Grant Program, which allows strategic investments to support maritime transportation infrastructure security activities throughout the U.S. In the bill, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will receive $14 million, a nearly 15 percent increase over fiscal 2017, in which $7.6 million will be used to hire 328 new CBP officers. In the maritime environment alone, AAPA advocates that a minimum of 500 new CBP officers are needed annually.
A $15 million increase, to $75 million, of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). DERA provides grants to eligible entities, including ports, for projects that reduce emissions from existing diesel engines.
Providing $980 million for the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), an increase of $457 million over fiscal 2017 appropriations. This funding increase will help raise the productivity, efficiency and safety of the nation’s ports and intermodal transportation system. Among the MARAD programs important to ports is its Marine Highways program, which is allocated $7 million for fiscal 2018, up from the $5 million appropriated last year.
AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle remarked that the new spending legislation reflects the association’s priorities for improving the “oftentimes overwhelmed, antiquated and deteriorating transportation links with America’s ports,” and represents the first step by Congress to favorably respond to the President’s infrastructure priorities.
“Ports serve as economic engines and vital freight gateways to the global marketplace for American farmers, manufacturers and consumers, and serve as critical infrastructure for the U.S. military in any deployment overseas,” he continued. “We’ve worked hard to create greater awareness among policymakers and the public for the vital role that ports play in our economy, national security and international competitiveness. We’re particularly pleased that Congress and the Administration are demonstrating through this bill that they recognize the importance of ports.”
Seaport cargo activity accounts for 26 percent of U.S. GDP, over 23 million American jobs, and generates over $320 billion annually in federal, state and local tax revenues. To ensure these jobs, tax revenues and freight volumes continue to grow and support the American economy, AAPA has worked with its member ports to identify $66 billion in federal port-related infrastructure investments over the next 10 years, on both the waterside and the landside. These federal investments are necessary to supplement the approximately $155 billion in capital improvements that U.S. port authorities and their private-sector partners are planning between 2016 and 2020.
About AAPA Founded in 1912 and recognized as the unified voice of seaports in the Americas, AAPA today represents 140 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 250 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. According to IHS Markit’s World Trade Service, combined international sea trade moving through Western Hemisphere ports in 2016 totaled 3.49 billion metric tons in volume and US$3.01 trillion in value. Of that total, ports in Central and South America handled 1.71 billion metric tons of cargo valued at US$941 billion, while North American ports handled 1.79 billion metric tons of goods, valued at US$2.07 trillion. To meet the growing demand for trade, the AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable. For more information, visit www.aapa-ports.org. On Twitter: http://twitter.com/AAPA_Seaports