Today, the House passed the Energy & Water Appropriations Bill by a vote of 240 to 177, which included Congressman Huizenga’s amendment to hold the federal government accountable and ensure the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is used to dredge ports and harbors along our nation’s coasts and across the Great Lakes.
“Whether it is Grand Haven, Holland, Ludington or Muskegon, these harbors are absolutely vital to the local economy,” said Rep. Huizenga. “With proper dredging, the ports in these harbors serve as economic engines that create good-paying jobs and promote economic expansion and development within each community.”
“It’s important to remember that ports and harbors do not just impact the community in which they are located. The freight that travels through cities along Lake Michigan ends up being utilized in Wyoming, Kentwood, and other communities across the state. While there is more work to be done to ensure harbors are properly maintained and dredged, the Huizenga-Hahn Amendment holds Washington accountable in a bipartisan manner and that is a good thing for manufacturers, agricultural producers, and consumers not only in West Michigan but across the nation.”
On Wednesday evening, Congressman Huizenga spoke on the House floor about the significance of the Huizenga-Hahn Amendment.
Properly funding harbor dredging across the Great Lakes will further increase economic activity for an industry that supports approximately 130,000 jobs while also allowing recreational boating to flourish. According to a recent report from Grand Valley State University, commercial shipping is responsible for 65,000 Michigan jobs and $3.3 billion in annual wages. Recreational boating contributes another $3.9 billion to Michigan’s economy and is responsible for more than 50,000 jobs.
For years, some in Washington have raided this fund to pay for items other than harbor maintenance. In 2014, Congressman Huizenga reached across the aisle and built a bipartisan coalition to make sure Washington made harbor dredging a priority. This week, Congressman Huizenga and Janice Hahn (D-CA) joined forces once again when Washington didn’t meet the funding levels agreed to just last year. The Huizenga-Hahn Amendment, which was unanimously adopted, restored an additional $36 million to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. Because of this amendment, the harbor funding target that was set by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) has been met for the coming fiscal year.
This means federal harbor channels, such as Pentwater, White Lake, Ludington, Muskegon, Holland, and Grand Haven, will have a better chance of competing for federal dredging & maintenance dollars. For example, $2.1 million from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is going to the Grand Haven Pier restoration this year. Other West Michigan projects that are funded through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund include: $1 million for emergency dredging of Muskegon Harbor and $635,000 for Holland.