Port of Los Angeles officials Wednesday said legislation passed with the COVID-19 relief package would significantly increase port and harbor funding.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 would unlock billions of dollars in the Harbor Maintenance Tax Fund, which collects revenue via imports, cruise passengers and certain domestic cargo, according to port officials.
HMT revenues were about $1.8 billion during the 2019 fiscal year, and the bill would allow those funds to be used “for their intended purpose — ensuring that maintenance needs of U.S. ports and harbors are met,” according to Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Funding to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would increase six-fold, according to Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte, who drafted the legislation.
Napolitano said the House Subcommittee on Water Resources, which she chairs, included the provision after they visited the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and realizing the need.
“Thank you to our congressional leaders for ending 2020 with a clear message of federal support for our nation’s maritime infrastructure,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “I applaud the tremendous work of Rep. DeFazio, Rep. Napolitano and California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.”
Port officials also credited the American Association of Port Authorities, the California Association of Port Authorities and the California Congressional Delegation with helping get the legislation passed. Mayor Eric Garcetti also testified on the issue this year.
The omnibus funding and COVID-19 relief package passed through the U.S. Senate and House on Monday, but President Donald Trump asked for it to be amended. It was not clear if he would veto it.