WRDA 2020 is ‘Landmark Legislation’ for America’s Economy
Bill includes critical Harbor Maintenance Tax spending reform advocated by AAPA
AAPA President & CEO Christopher J. Connor
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)—the unified and collective voice of America’s seaports—hailed news that AAPA’s long-sought reforms to more fairly allocate and spend revenues from Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) are included in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, which is included in the omnibus funding legislation for fiscal year 2021 that the House is expected to vote on tonight.
The biennial WRDA bill authorizes federal water resources projects and makes important program improvements.
AAPA President and CEO Christopher J. Connor said, “AAPA and its U.S. member ports are elated that Congress included WRDA in the year-end funding bill. This historic, landmark legislation has been at the forefront of AAPA’s advocacy efforts for decades to improve America’s economy, infrastructure and competitiveness.”
He added: “It’s especially significant this year because Congress agreed to allow spending down the approximately $9.3 billion balance in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), starting at $500 million in year one, to address the significant backlog in federal navigation maintenance work throughout the country. After that, WRDA 2020 provides an additional $100 million a year in spending until it reaches $1 billion in year five.”
Mr. Connor went on to praise the efforts of the legislation’s congressional champions, both members and staff, “who worked tirelessly to include WRDA and HMT reform in the final package.”
The HMT is collected on the value of imports, certain domestic cargo and on cruise passengers. The tax was created to fund 100 percent of operations and maintenance costs of federal navigation channels. Annual HMT collections, plus unspent collections from previous years and all accumulated interest, make up the HMTF. HMT revenues were nearly $1.8 billion in fiscal year 2019.
About AAPA Founded in 1912 and recognized as the unified voice of seaports in the Americas, AAPA today represents 130 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 200 industry solution providers and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. Cargo activities at U.S. seaports support nearly 31 million American jobs and account for 26 percent of the U.S. economy, generating nearly $5.4 trillion in total economic activity and more than $378 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2018. To meet the growing demand for trade, 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