Boustany Emphasizes Importance of Harbor Maintenance with OMB Director Lew

February 16, 2011

(Video at end)

Washington, DC – US Representative Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (R-Southwest Louisiana) today questioned Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jacob Lew during a Ways and Means Committee hearing on the President’s FY2012 Budget. Boustany criticized the administration for not maintaining ports and harbors, and stressed the importance of exports for Louisiana and for American competitiveness.

“Louisiana is a leader in international trade because of our extensive port system,” Boustany said to Director Lew. He emphasized that sediment build-up in coastal shipping channels is a significant problem and requires constant maintenance. “To be clear, this is a national problem, but I have the honor to represent a district
along the Louisiana coast and see firsthand the importance of dredging operations.”

Boustany pointed out to Lew the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), which was developed as a mechanism to dredge federal waterways around the country, is not fully utilized for its intended purpose. The fund currently operates with a $5.65 billion surplus, with $1.3 billion collected in FY2010, of which only half was used for dredging projects.

“The President’s FY2012 Budget proposes that only $758 million dollars be distributed from the trust fund for operations and maintenance purposes,” Boustany said. “Inadequate dredging costs vessels millions of dollars a year, and damages America’s ability to compete in a global market.”

When asked how the Administration could justify spending only half the fees collected each year for their intended purpose and using the fund as a “budget gimmick” to mask the federal deficit, Director Lew answered, “I’ll have to get back with you on that.”

In January, Congressman Boustany introduced the Realize America’s Maritime Promise (RAMP) Act, which ensures designated monies in the HMTF are dedicated to projects on the Corps of Engineers’ backlog list. Since taking office, Congressman Boustany has been a vocal representative in Washington for Louisiana’s coastal issues.

Video of Hearing:

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