The House in Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 4348) to provide an extension of Federal-aid highway, highway safety, motor carrier safety, transit, and other programs funded out of the Highway Trust Fund pending enactment of a multiyear law reauthorizing such programs, and for other purposes:
Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chair, our Nation's ports are critical drivers for local economies and I am disturbed by the chronic underfunding of maintenance activities to allow for their maximum efficiency. The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund was set up to address this growing concern and I continue to support the full expenditure of those funds for this purpose.
In my part of the country, thousand foot Lakers carry the iron ore, limestone, coal, and sand that support the manufacturing industries, which employ thousands of hard working Americans. Without efficient, reliable shipping through ports like Toledo, Cleveland, Sandusky, and Lorain, those plants could not afford to do business in the United States.
These ships are also carrying millions of tons of grain and other food commodities that make dinner affordable for our working families, and they are helping American farmers reach other countries, helping to balance our trade deficit. Thriving ports make this all possible.
And shipping itself directly supports nearly 50,000 jobs in the Great Lakes region alone. Nationally, that number is much higher.
Unfortunately, American shipping is at risk. Huge backlogs in dredging maintenance are causing ships to operate at reduced capacity or overlook some ports where navigation has become impossible.
Insufficient maintenance is undermining our national competitiveness. While the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund collects critical revenue to keep our ports and waterways open, only half those funds are currently spent. Those critical dollars should be fully expended for their intended purpose, keeping our ports open for business.
I am a cosponsor of the RAMP Act and rise in support of the Boustany Amendment. I hope to continue working with Representative Boustany and other colleagues as we move towards a final bill to ensure that this critical issue of Harbor Maintenance is included.