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Members of Congress want to push the government to spend money it collects from the Harbor Maintenance Tax for the purpose it was intended: maintaining ports and navigation channels.
Twin bills sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., stipulate that funds in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are to be used for harbor maintenance, and would allow any member of the House or Senate to raise a point of order about an appropriations bill that allocates trust fund money to other purposes.
The bill follows similar measures Congress made in previous years to require expenditure of surpluses in the Highway, Airport and Airways, and Inland Waterways trust funds.
When he introduced his bill recently, Levin said that the Army Corps of Engineers had a dredging backlog of some 15 million cubic yards that are clogging ports and channels in the Great Lakes, with similar backlogs elsewhere. He said the lack of maintenance is forcing vessels to carry reduced loads, which is a drag on the economy.
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