The Coalition for More Efficient Ports, an alliance made up in part of major U.S. ports, marine terminal operators and big box retailers, on Jan. 3 sent letters to President Donald Trump and leadership in the U.S. Senate and House, asking them to invest in port infrastructure as part of an overall infrastructure investment plan.
“As you develop a national strategy to make crucial investments in America’s national infrastructure, we urge you not to overlook America’s ports,” the letter reads in part. “Outdated infrastructure at our nation’s ports threatens to interrupt the supply chain and ultimately the American economy. This critical infrastructure challenge must be met by increased public and private investment in U.S. ports.”
The coalition is composed of the top three ports in the United States – Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York/New Jersey – plus the two largest marine terminal operators – Ports America Group and SSA Marine – as well as the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).
In addition to Trump, copied on the letter were Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council.
Separate letters were also addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
The letters come as Trump and Congress are expected to work on fulfilling one of Trump’s more bombastic campaign promises, namely strengthening and rebuilding the nation’s transportation infrastructure via a 10-year $1 trillion spending plan. Administration officials have said that in the coming weeks Trump is expected to release a 70-page outline of his plan.
Trump’s infrastructure plan was briefly introduced in his budget last spring, but was later put on the back burner so that Republicans could focus on overhauling the tax code. A tax reform bill was signed into law by the president just before Christmas, meaning both Trump and congressional leadership are now free to focus their attention on long-term infrastructure legislation.
Although traditional federal infrastructure funding programs generally aren’t comprehensive enough to support the size and scale of the investments needed at U.S. ports, the ports coalition is saying that the time has come for that to change.
“Your infrastructure package represents a historic opportunity to recalibrate U.S. infrastructure policy to ensure the future success of U.S. ports in a way that is commensurate with their economic and strategic importance,” the group wrote. “We stand ready to work with the White House and Congress to address America’s infrastructure needs.”
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