October 28, 2019

House Passes Bills From Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Sending Them to the Senate

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed four bills from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, including bipartisan legislation to unlock the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. H.R. 2440 would increase investments in critical harbor and port projects by helping ensuring that the funds currently collected to dredge our nation’s coastal and inland commercial ports are actually used for harbor maintenance.

“I am pleased that several bipartisan Transportation and Infrastructure Committee   bills were passed on the House floor today. In particular, my Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund legislation is a much-needed win for coastal communities, and I encourage the Senate to take up this and the other bills as soon as possible,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR).

“The House passed good bipartisan legislation today that will improve our ports and harbors, strengthen aviation safety, help communities recover from disasters more effectively, and make government more transparent,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO).  “I appreciate the leadership of Ranking Member Meadows, Ranking Member Westerman, Congressman Palmer, and Congressman Stauber in developing these bills, and I want to thank Chairman DeFazio for working with the Republican Members to move these priorities forward.  Working together has always been this committee’s recipe for success in accomplishing our shared goal of improving America’s infrastructure.”


H.R. 2440, Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund

This bipartisan bill makes it easier for Congress to appropriate any funds collected in the Trust Fund for authorized harbor maintenance needs, including the existing $9.5 billion balance in the Trust Fund.  The legislation enables the expenditure of approximately $34 billion over the next decade, which will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to dredge all Federal harbors to their constructed widths and depths.

“Today was a win, years in the making, for our Nation’s coastal communities, and members of the maritime workforce. Congress finally passed the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act, legislation to ensure our ports and harbors receive the funding they need to ensure they are fully operational,” said Chair DeFazio. “As someone who represents a coastal district, I’ve heard from countless fishermen, ship, tug and barge operators about the critical need for safe and well-maintained ports and harbors that allow them to do their jobs and keep our economy moving. These are fees already collected by the Federal government and it’s about time the money is used for its intended purpose—harbor maintenance. I encourage a swift passage through the Senate and look forward to the President signing this legislation into law.” 

“User fees collected specifically to improve the Nation’s harbors – and enhance the competitiveness of our farmers and businesses – should be used for their intended purpose,” said Ranking Member Graves.  “This bill is just common sense, and it’s the right thing to do for America’s infrastructure.  This isn’t frivolous government spending being determined by bureaucrats.  The fact is these projects are Congressionally authorized and paid for by users of this infrastructure.  I look forward to continuing our work to make sure the user fees collected into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are fully put towards our port and harbor infrastructure needs as Congress intended.”


"I want to thank Chairman DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves, and Ranking Member Westerman for their work on this important bill. H.R. 2440 would enable the investment of approximately $34 billion over the next decade from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to maintain federally-authorized harbors. Using what we collect to maintain our ports is critical to ensuring America's global competitiveness and should be supported across the board, as it benefits everyone.  As we pass this responsible budgeting bill today, I also look forward to working with my colleagues on the Water Resources Development Act this Congress to address inequities in how these funds are spent.,"said Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chair Grace Napolitano (D-CA).


“It’s simple: the federal government should use fees collected at ports for their intended purpose of infrastructure improvements,” said Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-AR).  “This bipartisan bill instructs the Army Corps to use the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund specifically for port and harbor maintenance, allowing both private and commercial industries to thrive. I’m grateful to my colleagues for their work on this legislation, and now look to the Senate to pass it quickly.”


“Our nation’s ports and harbors, like the Port of Erie, are supposed to receive funding for dredging and other maintenance from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.  Unfortunately, a significant portion of the revenue dedicated in the fund is not being used for that purpose,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA).  “From the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, our ports are in disrepair. By passing the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act today, the House took a giant step toward building 21st century ports and harbors for the 21st century economy, which will help America stay competitive on the world stage and create more opportunity for American workers.”


To learn more about the legislation, click here.


H.R. 2440, the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act bill text can be found here.


H.R. 1775, Notice to Airmen Improvement Act of 2019

H.R. 1775 improves aviation safety by requiring the FAA to establish a task force?composed of representatives from airlines, labor, and general and business aviation, as well as aviation safety and human factors experts?to review existing methods for presenting Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) to pilots and NOTAM policies and regulations, and determine best practices for organizing and presenting flight operations information to pilots in an optimal manner. The bill is in response to NTSB recommendations following a July 2017 near miss in which an Air Canada plane almost landed on a taxiway occupied by four fully-loaded passenger aircraft at San Francisco International Airport.  H.R. 1775 was introduced on March 14, 2019, by Congressman Pete Stauber (R-MN) and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA). The bill passed favorably out of Committee on March 27, 2019.


“The current NOTAM system is in need of updates. Our bill would help find ways to streamline the safety information pilots receive in a clear and concise format to help them better identify critical alerts and avoid incidents and accidents. I thank Representative Stauber for his leadership on this effort and am pleased that our effort to better protect flight crews and the flying public is one step closer to becoming law,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA).


“Although NOTAMs contain critical safety information, they are often lengthy and difficult to understand,” said Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN).  “These inefficiencies have the potential to create life threatening situations so I am happy to see the House pass my legislation which will ensure the continued safety of air travel by requiring that safety protocols are consistently maintained and improved upon.”


H.R. 2502, Transparency in Federal Buildings Act of 2019

H.R. 2502, the Transparency in Federal Buildings Projects Act of 2019, will improve transparency and oversight of federally owned real estate.  The bill amends Chapter 33 of Title 40, United States Code, by adding a new section which requires the Administrator of General Services to make publicly available on a subpage of the website of the General Services Administration all prospectuses submitted pursuant to sections 3307 and 3316, in an easily accessible and readable, organized, downloadable, and searchable format. H.R. 2502 was introduced on May 2, 2019, by Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL). The bill passed favorably out of Committee on May 8, 2019.


“I appreciate the work of my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, especially Ranking Members Graves and Meadows, for helping to advance this common sense reform,” said Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL). “Posting GSA project proposals on a searchable, public website at GSA will increase transparency and provide easy access to the public and private sector stakeholders. I look forward to its passage in the House.”


H.R. 1306, Federal Disaster Assistance Coordination Act

H.R. 1306 amends the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) to help federal agencies streamline and consolidate information collection and Preliminary Damage Assessments following disasters. H.R. 1306 was introduced on February 15, 2019, by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA). The bill passed favorably out of Committee on March 27, 2019.


“Today marks significant progress toward streamlining disaster relief efforts and adding needed transparency to the process,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the Ranking Member of the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee. “H.R. 1306 will consolidate information reporting and provide more access to our constituents on details such as spending, project updates, or preliminary damage assessments – the type of details our communities need to understand how we’re responding to their needs.  I thank my colleague Ranking Member Graves for his leadership of our conference on the Committee, and Representative Scott Peters for working with us on efforts to reform federal disaster assistance.”