Sending Office: Honorable Julia Brownley
Co-sponsor the National Multimodal Freight Network Improvement Act (H.R. 839)
I write to request your co-sponsorship of the National Multimodal Freight Network Improvement Act, which will require the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to include ports with annual cargo value of $1 billion or more on the National Multimodal Freight
As you may know, the 2015 FAST Act required DOT to establish a multimodal freight network in order to strengthen economic competitiveness, to reduce congestion and eliminate bottlenecks, and to improve the safety, security, efficiency, and reliability of
freight transportation, including freight movement to and from our nation’s ports, airports, and other trade gateways.
When the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee originally considered the FAST Act in 2015, the bill included language requiring DOT to include ports with 2 million tons of cargo and up on the network. At the time, many members of the Committee
believed that the tonnage threshold alone was not the only factor that should be considered. So, during the mark-up, the Committee improved the bill to require DOT to consider a variety of factors, including cargo value, when determining which ports should
be included in the final network.
Since then, I have worked to ensure DOT carries out the intent of the legislation. However, I recently spoke to senior leadership at DOT, and it has been made clear to me that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is planning to ignore the intent of
the law. While DOT agrees that cargo value is among the factors that should be considered, OMB is not permitting DOT to add any ports based on the cargo value criteria.
That is why I have introduced my bill: to specifically require the Executive Branch to implement the law as Congress originally intended.
There are several ports in the U.S. that are absolutely critical for the movement of goods, which have been excluded from the current network including:
- The Port of Hueneme, California with an annual cargo value at over $9 billion;
- The Port of Everett, Washington with an annual cargo value of $24 billion;
These ports are critical to our national economy, and to the regional economies in California and Washington. Furthermore, businesses of all shapes and sizes rely upon these ports for goods movement in their supply chains. While they may not be as big as
the largest ports, these ports provide resiliency in the U.S. supply chain, especially when other larger ports are congested.
Small and mid-sized ports also offer a strategic point of entrance for high value perishable cargo that is unable to sustain long wait times at larger ports, as well as a critical access point for specialty cargo that container ports may not be equipped
to handle. By way of example, on an annual basis, 800,000 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables move through the Port of Hueneme to markets across the U.S. and Canada. Yet, because OMB is only considering cargo weight, the current freight network perversely prioritizes
moving 2 million tons of dirt over a port moving hundreds of thousands of tons of fresh fruit and vegetables that are critical for feeding the nation.
I think we can agree now, as we did in 2015, that cargo weight should not be the only factor that DOT considers when deciding whether a port is included on the National Multimodal Freight Network. The Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors
and the American Association of Port Authorities — key stakeholders — have urged DOT to consider cargo value when creating the network.
I hope to earn your support for my bill. If you have questions, or would like to co-sponsor, please contact
Member of Congress
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