I have been a strong proponent of expanding trade opportunities for American businesses and the workers they employ. We must continue to develop cutting edge jobs that are only available in a global economy.
And yet, pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that will tear down barriers to our products languish in the United States Congress. Unfortunately, there has not been a debate in Congress on the ratification of these agreements.
I have introduced H.Res.987 which calls for these pending trade agreements to be immediately ratified!
This is not some dry, theoretical debate for our State of New Jersey. Our businesses, large and small, and their workers, have a great deal riding on these agreements. While trade is often depicted as "exporting jobs," the fact remains that 130,500 jobs in New Jersey depend on trade and of these, 50,500 are manufacturing jobs!
For this reason, I introduced a Resolution in the House, H.Res. 987, that calls for the immediate ratification of these three trade agreements.
The Port of New York and New Jersey -- "Staying Open"
The Port of New York and New Jersey is a major gateway for our region. Each year, $80 billion in commerce flows through the port. Total exports from New Jersey have increased by $8.1 billion over the past five years. 130,500 jobs in New Jersey depend on international trade!
Why then would the President slash funding in his budget for the ongoing New York-New Jersey Port Deepening Project to $57 million, far below last year's $90 million level and even farther below the $107 million the Army Corps of Engineers reports it needs to move forward on schedule?
The Port of New York and New Jersey is the third largest port in the nation. For years, the Army Corps has been working to dredge the main shipping channels of the Port to a depth of 50 feet, allowing access by the world's largest ocean-going vessels. Increasing the depth of our harbor has opened doors for more goods to be moved in and out.
In light of the Administration's stated desire to stimulate and sustain our economy through "shovel ready' projects, this critically important dredging work should be one of highest priorities, as should a redesign of the Bayonne Bridge whose current height prevents large vessels from reaching our port.
Completion of the Harbor Deepening Project will improve transportation efficiency and benefit East Coast markets served by this port, as well as increase the defense capability of this "National Strategic" port.
The President should support my efforts to shift funding from less vital Army Corps projects to the harbor deepening program, which has been a project of "National Significance" since September 11, 2001.