By Mark Edward Nero
On April 5, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR and bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa. jointly introduced bipartisan legislation to effectively remove the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund from the US budget, therefore bypassing the annual congressional appropriations process.
Instead of being included in the budget, HR 1908 proposes to achieve “full use” of the tax by making revenue directly available to the Army Corps of Engineers.
If enacted, the Corps’ coastal operation and maintenance program would jump from about $1.3 billion a year to $1.8 billion a year. Based on current estimates, the spending level should be sufficient to restore all harbor channels to their constructed dimensions, according to DeFazio and Kelly.
Kelly is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, and DeFazio is the ranking Democratic member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Kelly and DeFazio say that with the Trump Administration promoting a $1 trillion infrastructure investment, they want to highlight that it is easier to start with ports, as there is no need to raise taxes or find a new source of revenue. The funding source already exists and the money is being collected; the government just needs to spend it, they said.
The text of the proposed legislation can be seen at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1908/text