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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agenices Appropriations Act, 2004-Conference Report-Continued

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2004-CONFERENCE REPORT-CONTINUED

CONSTRUCTION OF A PORT OF PHILADELPHIA MARINE CARGO TERMINAL

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I rise today to engage in a brief colloquy with the distinguished chairman of the Appropriations Committee regarding the designation and use of funds from the National Defense Sealift Fund for the construction of a marine cargo terminal in the Port of Philadelphia. These funds were previously made available through prior appropriations bills. Specifically, these funds are to be used to complement funds being made available by State and local authorities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for the construction of a new, dedicated, state-of-the-art marine cargo terminal for use by FastShip, Inc., in Philadelphia.

These funds were originally designed to provide for vessel loan guarantees for the construction of high-speed vessels capable of providing additional sealift capacity consistent with the existing vessel Title XI loan guarantee program of the Maritime Administration. As part of this program, certain equipment and infrastructure items can also be included in the scope of the loan guarantee that would enhance and facilitate the use of the vessels to be constructed. Some of the funds were to be used for equipment needed to load and unload the vessels and for state-of-the-art information technology and container and terminal security at FastShip's marine cargo terminal.

Specifically, these funds were intended to be used to support guarantees for the construction in a U.S. shipyard of vessels for FastShip to establish a high-speed cargo service operating out of a new, state-of-the-art terminal in the Port of Philadelphia. These vessels will now be constructed without the benefit of this loan guarantee program, leaving a funding shortfall for infrastructure improvements. Since the amounts to be made available through the vessel loan guarantee program for infrastructure improvements needed to complement state and local funding for the terminal are now not forthcoming, the reallocation of these previously appropriated funds specifically for infrastructure at the FastShip marine cargo terminal is consistent with, and is a replacement for, the source of funding that is no longer available. The Department of Defense should direct these funds through the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority to ensure that these funds are made available for this purpose.

Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I rise to join the senior Senator from Pennsylvania, Mr. Specter, to reinforce the importance of this program. The development of high-speed sealift capacity is critical to national security and efforts like the one you have described are key to attaining this important objective.

I would inquire of the Senator if my understanding of the use of these funds is correct and that the reallocation of these previously appropriated funds specifically for infrastructure at the FastShip marine cargo terminal is to be directed through the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority to ensure that these funds are made available for this purpose.

Mr. SPECTER. I thank my colleague for his inquiry and would respond that his understanding is correct. Further, I thank my distinguished colleague for his support of this important project for the Port of Philadelphia and indeed for the development of enhanced sealift capability that will provide the necessary support for our service personnel who serve our country overseas.

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