U.S. Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., have just introduced legislation they say would support the American trade economy and significantly strengthen American ports.

Photo: Evan Lockridge

Photo: Evan Lockridge

The Maritime Goods Movement Act for the 21st Century would replace the Harbor Maintenance Tax, designed to fund the operation and maintenance of American ports, replacing it with the Maritime Goods Movement User Fee. The measure is an effort discourage shippers from diverting American-bound goods through Canadian or Mexican ports simply to avoid American taxes.

The two senators claim the bill would also dramatically improve support for infrastructure investments at American ports by ensuring that all of the proceeds from the user fee are spent annually for port operation and maintenance. Currently, only half of the tax revenue collected through the HMT each year is actually spent on port upkeep. This say the bill would enable full investment of fee collections, nearly doubling the amount of funds available to American ports each year.

The legislation would also set aside portions of the user fee to support critical low-use ports and to create a competitive grant program to improve the U.S. intermodal transportation system

The full text of the legislation is available here.