In preparation for legislative action in the 113th Congress, NEMWI compiled a Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) summary covering bills introduced in the 112th Congress, two of which have already been introduced in the 113th Congress. The HMTF, enacted in 1986, covers costs of the Army Corps of Engineers for operation and maintenance activities--mainly dredging to the authorized depths and widths--in coastal and Great Lakes harbors. The Fund is capitalized from a mandatory collection levied on importers and domestic shippers using the coastal or Great Lakes ports, assessed at 0.125% of the cargo value. The revenues flow into the HMTF and Congress expends them through appropriations for specific ACOE activities. Since 1997, however, the HMTF has carried a surplus, while harbor dredging has been cut back, with excess HMTF funds flowing directly to the US Treasury to offset the deficit. Members introduced legislation during the 112th Congress to modify the distribution of funds, including how much and to which harbors. The NEMWI overview provides summary information on each piece of legislation, including amendments, introduced in the 112th Congress to address these concerns.
The 113th Congress already has begun moving HMTF reform legislation. Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) reintroduced the RAMP Act and Sen. Carl Levin reintroduced his Harbor Maintenance Act. Further, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the HMTF on Thursday, January 31, 2013 as part of a larger series of planned hearings on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.