House Committee Passes Bill to Provide Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Revenues

May 09, 2019

The G.D. Morgan is a cutter suction dredge from Weeks Marine that’s used in the Mississippi River Ship Channel. Photo courtesy of Big River Coalition/P.J. Hahn

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday approved by voice vote, a bill which would spend the entire harbor maintenance tax revenues on its intended purpose, rather than diverting a portion of the funds to the General Treasury for unrelated matters. ASA supports the move to ensure all funds collected for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are used for the intended purposes of waterways dredging and port maintenance.

The Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act (H.R. 2440) was sponsored by Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO). Currently, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund collects more revenue from shippers than Congress has appropriated to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to maintain our harbors. Those funds go into the general Treasury instead of being used for the intended purpose of investing in our nation’s ports and harbors to enable them to remain competitive in the global shipping.

If enacted into law, H.R. 2440 would enable the expenditure of approximately $34 billion over the next decade, which will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge all Federal harbors to their constructed widths and depths.

The bill must be passed by the full House and Senate and it is unclear when or how it will move forward from here. The measure could be added to a larger infrastructure initiative or addressed in the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) reauthorization.