While a long-term transportation bill faces an uncertain future in the House, sponsors of a measure to spend all Harbor Maintenance Tax revenue for dredging harbors and channels are exercising other options.
Reps. Charles Boustany, R-La., and Joe Courtney, D-Conn., on Wednesday sent a letter to the House Budget Committee asking that HMT spending be part of the fiscal 2013 budget plan.
Boustany is the author of the RAMP Act, (Realize America’s Maritime Promise), that says any legislation that spends less than HMT annual revenue can be ruled out of order. The government collects some $1.4 billion in taxes, but less than $1 billion is allocated for dredging. As a result, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund has a balance of more than $6 billion.
The Obama administration’s 2013 budget request is $848 million. The difference has led to a $6 billion surplus in the HMT.
The RAMP Act was to be amended to the House’s $260 billion, five-year transportation bill, but it has bogged down because the House leadership has been unable to find enough votes among Republicans to pass it.
On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that if the majority can’t agree on a bill, the next step would be to take up a two-year $109 billion transportation bill being considered by the Senate. The bill, which mirrors traditional highway legislation, has no provisions for dredging.
The American Association of Port Authorities has written to the Budget Committee to support putting the HMT proposal in the budget plan.
Contact R.G. Edmonson at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BobinWash.