Democratic Leader Pelosi spoke about investments in infrastructure and job creation at Pier 70 in San Francisco. The Leader toured the largest drydock on the West Coast of the Americas with Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Malia Cohen, SF Port Director Monique Moyer, Omar Benjamin with the Port of Oakland, Willie Adams the Secretary-Treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and Hugh Vanderspek with BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair. Below are the Leader's remarks.
"Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, for your very kind words of introduction, your friendship and recognition of what we have all done working together here. I am honored to join you Mayor Lee, Supervisor Cohen, Monique Moyer the Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco, Omar Benjamin the Executive Director of the Port of Oakland, and William Adams Secretary-Treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. He follows in a very proud position. I learned a lot about all of this over the decades from Commissioner Leroy King, who is with us, and from our beautiful friend, Jimmy Herman. Jimmy Herman is like a patron saint to many of us in terms of importance of the ports to job creation, to a stronger economy for our country. Hugh Vanderspek, thank you so much for your leadership. Your vision in BAE in all of this has been very significant over time and going into the future.
"Today we are gathered at Pier 70. What I hear about the investments in the ports and the importance of ports is really music to my ears. It is a recognition that here in San Francisco we have done something that is of national significance. Hugh made that point as we walked around that it is now recognized by the Army Corp of Engineers and federal decision makers that this is of national significance.
"They talked about the cruise ship. If we had not done what we have done to date here, that cruise ship could only be repaired in China. That was the nearest place it could be repaired. That is simply not right when we have the talent, the capability, the desire, the need and the skills for good paying jobs here in our dry dock.
"Over time, we have all made a major investment, understood what was at stake and understood the connection between jobs and dredging. If we have dredging and we have the ships coming in, then you have the welding and the repair work on the ships. If you have a deeper channel you have a larger draft on the ship. That larger draft on the ship enables you to have a bigger load of product therefore more goods going out or coming in for our workers. And so all is connected to jobs, one way or another.
"I am happy to be here today because it is part of our effort in Congress, nationally, to take pride in what we are doing here as a national example of how this can be done. But it has to be done all over the country. Omar talked about the Harbor Maintenance Fund. Imagine, this is a fund, the Harbor Maintenance Fund, which is paid for by the private sector, a fee, and only about half of that money is used for dredging. And we are saying no, we want it all used for dredging because that is its designated purpose. We can almost double down by changing that law which we have in the works, just by doing that it could double our funds available for dredging and we fully intend to do that and we want to do more.
"The connection, as the Mayor has pointed out, the connection between this dredging, commerce and infrastructure in general is very important to note. If we do not make those investments in infrastructure -- which dredging is one of -- infrastructure changes that are needed in a green futuristic way, then we will be missing the boat as well. And for that reason, in addition changing the law in Harbor Maintenance Fund, we want to renew Build America Bonds. This was part of the recovery package. The Build America Bonds Initiative ended December 31st, 2010. We have been fighting to renew those.
"If we do not do as Mayor Lee says, and with this full appreciation of previous leadership roles, if we do not make those investments in infrastructure connected to the port and the rest in our hearing that we had on the subject in Washington, one of the witnesses said, "We will have a formula for planned obsolescence for the U.S. economy.' We know what we need to do. We know we want to be number one. The Panama Canal we see what is happening there with the expansion, we need to be ready for all of that. Not just in San Francisco and Oakland, which of course is our interest, and our responsibility to make an example to the country, but to recognize that all of these things: Build America Bonds, the Harbor Maintenance Fund change in the law; think of how that affects Louisiana. And Cedric Richmond testified that the Louisiana Port at the end of the whole Mississippi River, all those products coming to market. So this is not just about the ports and East Coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast. This is about products from all over the country coming to those ports by other water ways and if we are not dredging deep enough with a deep enough dredge, we're missing an opportunity for commerce and for jobs. And in some cases a day where a penny would make a tremendous difference in the profits for our commerce.
"But again, it is a wide range of what you can see, by the array of distinguished labor leaders who are here. Gunner Lundberg... their names have been called out, but it is a wide array. Whether it is sailors or bar pilots or blue collar construction workers, it goes right across the spectrum and then has an impact again in commerce in our country. So when people talk about trade and if it is good for jobs or not good for jobs, one thing we want to be sure is, that unless we invest in infrastructure, dredging, etc., we are missing the boat. We are missing the boat. Literally and figuratively on what we could do. And so again this is a nation-wide issue with ports accounting for 13.3 million jobs and nearly $650 billion in personal income in our community. We have to work to modernize these centers of economic activity and job growth.
"Strengthening our ports, strengthening our nation. Again, we are moving forward so we are not a formula for planned obsolescence. The Mayor referenced some of the challenges we have in Washington and I will address that in a moment, but that is why I want to take time in saying that with the collaboration of the distinguished leaders who are here, giving us the benefit of their thinking about how money could best be spent. I join my Bay Area colleagues to make smart federal investments in the San Francisco Bay. It is nice to be Speaker, Leader is good, but being Speaker we got more than $130 million from the Army Corp of Engineers. Projects that stimulate commerce, invested millions of the millions to clean up debris and restore local wetlands, deepened Oakland's harbor to accommodate larger vessels. Deeper dredge, more products, more profit and create more jobs and ensure all improvements are done in a way that both our economy but also improve our environment.
"Recognizing the prestige of our ports, of course we are proud to notice the Mayor takes such great pride that the 34th America's Cup will bring 1.4 billion dollars to our local economy, create 8,000 jobs, and renew sections of the waterfront as well. So all of it adds up to something quite wonderful. Mr. Mayor I did not have this conversation with you yet, but last night as I came into the city I stopped by Pier 80 to see the filming of a movie at the port, another good use of port property to again, create commerce and attract attention to our great city. So for these and many other reasons, thank you Mr. Mayor for your tremendous leadership. Thank you for being a part of the national effort. And as you said, there are some challenges in Washington.
"In the budget cuts that are there, they will weaken our ports, cost us jobs and undermine our economic growth. And here is why: they will reduce funding for the Army Corps of Engineers. Exactly the wrong thing to do. They will cut port security, cut port security. Which even the Republican Chairmen of the Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Peter King, said was "shortsighted, dangerous, and wrong.' And with all of the other, I will not dwell too much on that, but even again other reasons.
"Mark Zandi, the economist who had been an adviser to John McCain, said that spending cuts to ports and across the budget could cost us 700,000 jobs, just in the short-term. So we cannot go to that place. Our first priority is to create jobs. So what that means, to the personal aspirations of America's workers and the respect for them to create jobs, for what it means to the competitiveness of our country to keep America number one. As all of our speakers have said, we are in a place where, Willie said it so well, our workers are waiting to see are we making decisions in favor of a strong economy that recognizes the role that our workers play. Good paying jobs for our workers. As Monique kept pointing out, that this is how we started. We stand on others' shoulders she said, but others will stand on ours and we have to make sure they're strong. Omar talked about some of the challenges we face and the pride we take being the largest dry dock in all of the Americas. But there is something to be very, very proud of and Hugh, this is a public-private partnership. About the private sector and the public sector working closely together in a way to create good-paying jobs for the future.
"It is a pretty exciting time, and the reason I wanted to be here today, and why I am excited about it, is this is really a big step forward if we can succeed with it. We started in the recovery bill, now much of that is expired. We are fighting to continue some of it and reinstate others of it. But we know that the path we are on is the right one and nothing could make it a clearer demonstration of that, than the example the port of San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, Oakland and its surrounding areas, have demonstrated to the country. I am very, very proud of what you are doing. I take pride in the funds we are going to bring here. But we would not be able to bring funds here if we did not have a model of success. Thank you for making this place a model of success and thank you all for being here today."