Louisiana Congressman says appropriations bill takes money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
U.S. Congressman Charles Boustany, Jr., (R-South Louisiana) has released a statement following the U.S. House of Representatives passing Fiscal Year 2013 Energy & Water Appropriation Bill. In his statement, Boustany, who voted against the legislation, says that the bill takes money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), while ignoring South Louisiana’s coastline and wetlands and underfunds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Operations & Maintenance account.
“This bill continues to steal money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) at the expense of our nation’s ports and harbors. The Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) will generate $1.6 billion next year, but only a little over half will be used toward dredging and maintenance. The rest will be funneled off into other accounts. Today’s vote allows for approximately $658 million of a dedicated user fee to continue to be diverted from the HMTF for unrelated appropriations and budget gimmicks.
“As chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, with jurisdiction over taxes and revenues, I held a February hearing looking into this issue. At a time when Americans are concerned about our nation’s competitiveness, the federal government seems to be content with allowing our ports and waterways to fall into disrepair. This is a blatant abuse of the dedicated federal tax meant to maintain and care for our nation’s main avenue for trade exports. Louisiana is the nation’s fourth largest trading state and our farmers, shippers, mariners, and port workers deserve and are demanding full use of the HMT.
“This bill goes a step further in negatively impacting South Louisiana. Since Hurricane Rita, dollars invested in the Southwest Coastal Louisiana Feasibility Study have advanced this comprehensive protection and restoration plan. This legislation contains zero funding for the Southwest Study. South Louisianans need comprehensive hurricane and storm protection to protect vital energy infrastructure and their livelihoods. The study will provide key information needed to protect and restore Calcasieu, Cameron, and Vermilion Parishes from devastating hurricanes. Much-needed funding to accelerate completion of the Study is critical not just to Louisiana, but to our entire country.
“Through my efforts, the funding level is historic, but we are at a critical juncture. I will not support a bill that steals from our nation’s waterways. Doing so will directly harm small businesses, industries, and families in South Louisiana. The issue will not be solved until the amount of HMT receipts equal the amount of expenditures. With 195 cosponsors, the RAMP Act, H.R. 104, gained wide bipartisan support because it seeks to fix the current raiding of the HMTF.”