Introduction of the National Freight Network Trust Fund Act of 2015by Representative Janice Hahn
Posted on 2015-02-12
in the house of representatives
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Ms. HAHN. Mr. Speaker, today, I am introducing the National Freight
Network Trust Fund Act of 2015 along with my Co-Chair of the bipartisan
Congressional PORTS Caucus Ted Poe. This legislation will provide a
guaranteed dedicated funding source, at no additional expense to
taxpayers, to serve our nations freight movement.
The Port of Los Angeles is in my backyard and when I came to Congress, I was surprised that there was a lack of focus on ports and freight transportation in general. One of the reasons I co-founded the PORTS Caucus is to educate Members about the importance of freight transportation to our nation's economy.
We are a consumer economy. Whether it is a ``mom and pop'' store on the corner or a large retailer like Target, we don't think twice when we go to these stores to purchase groceries, toys, or clothing. When we go to the store, we expect that milk and the Barbie dolls are on the shelf.
We also want to ensure that goods Made in America--including manufacturing and agriculture--are able to be shipped efficiently across our nation's highways and rail to our ports for export, which is crucial to our nation's continued economic success.
Ultimately, in MAP-21--our last surface transportation bill--we were successful in including provisions to start the conversation about developing a national freight transportation network.
The problem is that today there are not enough funds to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent--let alone make the necessary investment to modernize and increase the efficiency of our freight network. That will not keep our economy global competitive as we continue progressing through the 21st Century.
For example, goods that leave the Port of Los Angeles take 48 hours to arrive in Chicago and takes 30 hours to travel across the city. This bottleneck is unacceptable and means higher costs for consumers, more congestion, more pollution, and less jobs. The bottom line is that we need to fund our nation's freight network.
If we fail to fund our ports, we will lose our competitive edge and add costs to our goods. A USDOT report, Freight Transportation: Improvements and the Economy, estimates the cost of carrying freight on the highway system at between $25 and $200 an hour. Unexpected delays can increase the cost of transporting goods by 50 to 250 percent.
To keep our nation's freight network globally competitive, I am introducing the National Freight Network Trust Fund Act of 2015, which would create a dedicated source of funding for essential projects to improve and modernize our freight network at no new cost to the public.
This legislation would create a National Freight Network Trust Fund and deposit 5% of all import duties collected by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Ports of Entry into the Fund to be spent only on freight transportation. Neither businesses nor taxpayers would incur any new cost because it uses a small percentage of funds our CBP officials already are collecting at the border as freight enters our nation.
Five percent of import duties amounts to roughly $2 billion in the Trust Fund every year at our current rate of imports, a level that would help address the nation's infrastructure funding deficit and allow us to make essential investments in the freight network.
This legislation would create the National Freight Network Trust Fund as an off-budget trust fund to only serve the roads of the National Freight Network and those roads and rail that connect the Network to Ports of Entry.
The legislation would also direct the Secretary of Transportation to work in accordance with the National Freight Strategic Plan to identify improvements to the National Freight Network, on-dock rail, and roads and rail that connect the Network to Ports of Entry, which show the greatest need in providing for the movement of freight and goods across the United States. It would also provide grants at the Secretary's discretion to State, regional and local transportation authorities to make freight network improvements.
This bill will infuse billions back into the economy every year, help create good paying American jobs and keep our nation's ports strong and globally competitive.
This is a win for our ports and for our nation's economy. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.