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Public Statements

Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. BROWNLEY of California. Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for including my amendment No. 20, related to the Navy, in the en bloc agreement today.

My amendment is a simple, straight-forward improvement to H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act.

As you know, Section 202 of the underlying bill requires the Army Corps of Engineers to assess the operation and maintenance needs of harbors used for a variety of purposes, including for commercial navigation; for commercial fishing; for transportation of persons; domestic energy production; public health and safety; the activities of the Coast Guard; recreation; and other purposes.

My amendment would add ``activities of the Secretary of the Navy'' to the list of activities that the Army Corps must consider when assessing the operation and maintenance needs of harbors.

Section 202 of the underlying bill also requires the Army Corps of Engineers to determine an equitable allocation of funds from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

The bill sets forth criteria, including an assessment of utilization; national and regional significance, and also states that the allocations shall not be based solely on tonnage.

My amendment would add a requirement for the Corps to consider--where appropriate--our national security needs in consultation with the Secretary of the Navy.

My amendment does not alter the delicate balance that the Committee has sought to achieve between small and large harbors. It simply requires that the Corps of Engineers takes into account our naval fleet and our national security needs.

I believe better up-front coordination of our priorities is needed between the Army Corps of Engineers and the Navy because of a situation that has arisen in my Congressional District.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began dredging Channel Islands Harbor in 1960 because erosion was threatening Navy installations near Port Hueneme and the dredging provided the sand to replenish what had washed away.

Due to inadequate federal funding for harbor maintenance in 2013, the beach area--that borders along Naval Base Ventura County--received only a fraction of the 1 million cubic yards of sand it typically gets when the Corps dredges the Channel Islands Harbor sand trap.

Now, severe erosion is threatening coastal streets in Port Hueneme, which serve as a critical transportation artery to and from the Naval Base.

The erosion is also threatening military readiness at Naval Base Ventura County.

According to the Navy: ``Continued beach erosion creates a potential for mission impacts at Naval Base Ventura County. These impacts include risks to critical Navy facilities and infrastructure; such as ordinance magazines and transportation routes, lab and training buildings, runway lighting, etc.''

Since coming to Congress, I have worked tirelessly with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Navy to address these issues.

The Department of the Navy has communicated its clear national security interest to the Corps, and has informed me that the Navy stands ready to provide its legally required share of funds for the project. However, the project remains underfunded.

In the future, as the Army Corps of Engineers prioritizes the use of funds, I believe the Army Corps needs to consider the activities of the navy and our national security needs.

My amendment will require the Corps to take these issues into account when prioritizing the use of funds.

While I continue to work to find funds to address the immediate crisis, it is my hope that better up-front coordination between the Army Corps and the Navy will prevent this issue from occurring again in the future.

Again, I appreciate the Chairman and Ranking Members support for this common-sense improvement to H.R. 3080.

Ms. BROWNLEY of California. Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for including my amendment No. 22, related to job creation, in the en bloc agreement today.

My amendment is a simple, straight-forward improvement to H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act.

This important amendment will require the Government Accountability Office to study and report to Congress on the effectiveness of the activities funded by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund in maximizing economic growth and job creation in the communities surrounding low- and moderate-use ports.

The GAO will also be required to include recommendations relating to the use of amounts in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to increase the competitiveness of United States ports relative to Canadian and Mexican ports.

Under my amendment, the term ``low-use port'' means a port at which not more than 1,000,000 tons of cargo are transported each calendar year.

The term ``moderate-use port'' means a port at which more than 1,000,000, but fewer than 10,000,000, tons of cargo are transported each calendar year.

I came to Congress to move our nation forward, to create jobs, and to ensure that Ventura County has the resources necessary to succeed.

Like many of my colleagues, I view all of the actions that Congress takes--and all federal programs--through the lens of its potential to create jobs.

That is why I think it is critically important that GAO undertake a comprehensive study of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and help us to maximize the job creation potential of the program and to increase our international competitiveness.

In my district, I am fortunate to represent several ports and harbors, including Channel Islands Harbor, Ventura Harbor, and the Port of Hueneme.

The ports and harbors in my district are critical to our local and regional economy--supporting both small, mid-size, and large businesses, as well as thousands of jobs both directly at the port and indirectly in our community.

In 2012, the Port of Hueneme--which moved approximately 1.3 million tons of cargo--undertook a study of the local and regional economic impact.

The study concluded that 9,448 jobs in the Port Hueneme metropolitan region and the State of California were in some way related to the activity at the Port's marine terminals. This included 2,277 direct jobs, 2,727 induced jobs, 620 indirect jobs, and 3,824 regional jobs influenced by cargo exported and imported through the Port Hueneme marine terminals.

In fiscal year 2012, marine cargo activity at the Port of Hueneme generated a total of $723.8 million of total economic activity in the region.

A total of $50.8 million of state and local tax revenue was generated by maritime activity at the Port's marine terminals in fiscal year 2012.

In addition, $12.9 million of state and local taxes were created due to the economic activity of the users of the cargo moving via the marine terminals.

The Port of Hueneme is just one example of how strategic and smart use of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is helping to create jobs and generate economic growth.

Across the nation our ports and harbors are vital economic engines of our economy.

I think it is critically important for Congress to have a thorough report from the GAO on the use of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund across the nation so that we can maximize the use of these taxpayer dollars--supporting businesses and creating jobs.

Again, I appreciate the Chairman and Ranking Members support for this common-sense improvement to H.R. 3080.

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