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WASHINGTON, DC—On Tuesday, staff representing nearly a dozen members of Congress on the Congressional PORTS Caucus traveled to the Port of Baltimore for a close-up look at the workings of and challenges facing America’s ports. After a morning of briefings on port issues ranging from dredging and infrastructure needs to security and containerized screening procedures, congressional staffers in attendance received a tour of marine terminals in action and saw a Customs and Border Patrol demonstration of a cargo container screening.
“It’s so important that we educate policymakers about the vital role ports play in our economy and security,” said PORTS Caucus founder and co-chair Congresswoman Janice Hahn. “This port tour gave our policymakers’ staffs valuable exposure to the size and scope of port operations, and enhanced their understanding of the challenges facing our nation’s ports.”
"The Port of Baltimore was honored to have hosted the Congressional Ports Caucus," said Maryland Port Administration Deputy Executive Director Kathy Broadwater. "This caucus has a very unique opportunity to shine a bright light on issues facing U.S. ports. Ports today are economic generators for their cities and states and provide good-paying, family-supporting jobs. It is vital that they receive the necessary support needed to continue in those roles."
“Yesterday, the Port of Baltimore and its world-class employees were on display for lawmakers around the country. As one of Maryland’s strongest economic engines – supporting $3.6 billion in wages for Maryland families each year – it’s so important that we show policy-makers first-hand why investing in our ports is investing in our future,” explained Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger who represents the Port of Baltimore. “We need to open all world markets to U.S. goods and services to create and retain quality jobs.”
“As a member of the PORTS Caucus, I feel it is critical that Americans understand the importance of our ports and the challenges facing us,” said Congressman Andy Harris whose district includes the Port of Baltimore. “That’s why I’ve made it a priority for my staff to participate in fact finding visits like the tour of the Port of Baltimore to allow them to better understand these vital economic engines.”
“The Port of Baltimore is a critical economic engine in Maryland and we must maintain the Port’s critical infrastructure so it can remain one of the east coast’s busiest points of commerce,” said Congressman Sarbanes, whose district also includes the Port. “As the influx of larger ships and more goods continues, Baltimore is one of the few ports that stands ready to absorb the increased capacity.”
“Port security is vital to both national security and economic security,” said PORTS Caucus co-chair Congressman Ted Poe. “Port activity directly or indirectly impacts every home in America. The caucus is focused on raising awareness in Congress about the importance of our nation’s ports and will continue to educate lawmakers about the work they do and the challenges they face.”
Staffers received an overview of business at U.S. ports from Kathy Broadwater, Deputy Executive Director of the Maryland Port Administration, an update from Kurt Nagle, President of the Association of American Port Authorities on national issues impacting ports, and briefings from Jeff McKee, Senior Coastal Navigation Program Manager Headquarters U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mark Montgomery, President & CEO of Ports America Chesapeake, Roger Bohnert, Deputy Associate Administrator, Intermodal System, U.S. Maritime Administration, and Ricardo Scheller, Port Director, Port of Baltimore, U.S. Customs & Border Protection.
The bi-partisan Congressional Ports Opportunity Renewal Trade and Security (PORTS) caucus has 73 members from across the country, working to promote the importance our ports to the nation’s economy and the need to secure them.