Standing up for port fundingLast week, in honor of Wisconsin Ports Week, we recognized the significant role our ports play in commerce, shipping, transportation and recreation.
By: U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, Superior Telegram
Last week, in honor of Wisconsin Ports Week, we recognized the significant role our ports play in commerce, shipping, transportation and recreation.
I have the great honor of representing the Port of Duluth-Superior, which supports 11,500 jobs and contributes over $1.5 billion to the local and regional economy. This port serves 1,000 ships each year, moving 40 million tons of cargo to destinations throughout the Great Lakes and around the world.
The port provides a crucial link for the miners, manufacturers, and farmers of northern Wisconsin and Minnesota.
As a co-chairman of the Great Lakes Task Force, I have focused my efforts on increasing commerce in the Great Lakes and ensuring our ports and harbors are properly maintained and dredged.
The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund serves as one of the main federal sources of funding to accomplish these goals. Since 1997, however, Congress has not appropriated the full amount collected to the trust fund. Our harbors remain under maintained and the Great Lakes alone face a backlog of over $200 million in projects.
I’ve called on the House Appropriations Committee to fully allocate all of the trust fund money to ensure that the Great Lakes ports are sufficiently supported. This includes co-sponsoring the RAMP Act, which would require that all funds that are dedicated to the harbor maintenance trust fund are actually used for just that — harbor maintenance. It should not be raided by the treasury for general spending.
I also sponsored an amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which prohibited these funds from being used for other, unauthorized purposes. While our harbors continue to be under-maintained, these limited dollars must continue to be prioritized on dredging.
Finally, I’ve supported legislation to designate the Great Lakes as one navigation system for budgetary purposes. Our Great Lakes ports do not function separately and independently from one another, but rather as one large, interconnected system.
We need to guarantee that funding priorities reflect this reality and that Great Lakes ports are not continually underfunded.
Later this year, Congress will move forward with the reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act — legislation that will outline federal priorities for our water-based transportation system. I look forward to continuing to stand up as a strong voice for Lake Superior and our Great Lakes watershed, and in particular, the Lake Superior ports that I have the honor to represent.
In celebration of Wisconsin Ports Week, thank you to the men and women who work day-in and day-out to keep our goods flowing on the Great Lakes.
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, represents Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District.