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Public Statements

Port of Charleston

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GRAHAM. I ask unanimous consent to enter into a colloquy with my good friend, the majority leader.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, a lot of Members now understand the problem we have with the port of Charleston in 2011. There is no money in the President's budget to do a scoping study. Under the new rules concerning earmarking, it has been very difficult to find a way forward. With the help of the majority leader and his staff and the people on Appropriations--the staffs of Senators Feinstein and Lamar Alexander--we came up with language that would allow 12 different ports to have studies completed in fiscal year 2011, if the Corps chose to engage in those studies. It was not a requirement, and it had no sums required in terms of what the Corps had to spend. It was purely discretionary. Unfortunately, our House colleagues did not accept that language.

My problem is that in fiscal year 2011, there is no mechanism as of yet to allow a scoping study to be done for the potential deepening of the Charleston harbor to accept supercargo ships coming through the Panama Canal in 2014. This harbor, along with others, has to be deepened to accept these new ships. The amount of money is $40,000 on the Federal side to be matched by the State. People ask me: Why can't you come up with the money? Boeing, BMW, Michelin, the State of South Carolina?

I would do the $40,000, but I can't. You cannot have a private entity take over a Federal Government responsibility. So this is one of those situations that is a catch-22. It is an anomaly in the law. The Vice President's office and Congressman Clyburn, a lot of us, Congressman Scott, have been working diligently, with the assistance of the majority leader, to find a pathway forward within the current system. We are very close to finding a way to get this study done because it was a previously authorized program under current law.

I have put a hold on everything I could put a hold on.

Now I believe we are making progress. The majority leader has some needs, and I want to let him know I am willing to work with him and others to end the Senate well before we go out on Easter break. I thank him for the help he has given me to take care of a problem that no one could have anticipated. But it is a real problem for the people of South Carolina. I wish to let him know I appreciate the effort.


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