Larsen Leads Bipartisan Effort To Invest In Small Ports

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today led a bipartisan group of U.S. House members in urging the administration to provide adequate funding for small ports in its FY 2017 budget. Small ports are economic drivers for communities along the West Coast, but they have been underfunded in recent years.
 
In Larsen’s district, small ports like the Ports of Skagit and Bellingham create jobs and economic activity in a number of sectors, from fishing and shipbuilding to manufacturing and recreation.
 
In their letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, the members called for the federal government to fulfill its responsibility to help keep these job-creating ports open for business.
 
“These small ports and harbors are some of our nation’s most valuable assets and critical to maintaining and creating jobs in these states. Commercial trading and fishing and recreational boating at these small ports is critically important to the economic health of Oregon and Washington coastal port communities and to our states, region and nation,” the members wrote. “Leaving our small port needs unmet threatens the jobs of our citizens and weakens our national economic competitiveness.”
 
Full text of the letter follows.
 
December 2, 2015
 
Mr. Shaun Donovan
Director
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC  20503
 
Dear Mr. Donovan:
 
As you develop your FY 2017 budget proposal, we ask that you address the needs of small coastal waterways in the Pacific Northwest.  These small ports and harbors are some of our nation’s most valuable assets and critical to maintaining and creating jobs in these states.  Commercial trading and fishing and recreational boating at these small ports is critically important to the economic health of Oregon and Washington coastal port communities and to our states, region and nation.
 
These federal commercial navigation projects are routinely overlooked and remain critically underfunded.  We are disappointed that in recent years, most of the small ports on our coasts were completely zeroed out in the administration’s budget.  Even with the mandatory minimum funding allocation for small ports in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA), many Northwest “emerging harbors” were left unfunded in the FY 2016 budget proposal.  Congress has been clear about its support for these small ports by increasing Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) expenditures. We urge you, at a minimum, to reach the overall target for HMTF expenditures set forth in WRRDA and to allocate no less than 10 percent of maintenance dredging funds to meet the critical needs of small ports in the Northwest and throughout the nation. 
 
Congress has shown its commitment to these navigation projects by providing programmatic funding pots each year.  It is imperative for the Administration to show its commitment now and fund these small ports in the FY 2017 budget proposal.  Without adequate funding, the navigation channels leading to these ports will silt in and the jetties protecting these communities will crumble.  Ports provide employment for a significant proportion of these communities.  Without access to the ports and the open ocean, the main economic driver in these communities is gone. It is important to give certainty and support to these small communities.
 
We believe it is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that our coastal ports in Oregon and Washington, and throughout the nation, remain open for business and continue to contribute to the economic health of the U.S.  Leaving our small port needs unmet threatens the jobs of our citizens and weakens our national economic competitiveness.  We thank you for your consideration and efforts and look forward to working with you to address this issue.
 
Sincerely,
 
Rick Larsen    
Member of Congress              
 
Peter DeFazio
Member of Congress
 
Jim McDermott                      
Member of Congress              
 
Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress
 
Adam Smith               
Member of Congress              
 
Greg Walden
Member of Congress
 
Cathy McMorris Rodgers                  
Member of Congress              
 
Dave Reichert
Member of Congress
 
Kurt Schrader            
Member of Congress              
 
Jaime Herrera Beutler
Member of Congress
 
Suzanne Bonamici                 
Member of Congress              
 
Suzan DelBene
Member of Congress
 
Denny Heck               
Member of Congress              
 
Derek Kilmer
Member of Congress
 
Dan Newhouse          
Member of Congress  
 
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