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John Mica pushes bill for Port Canaveral maintenance

Transportation bill calls for long-term funding, including maritime section

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., toured Port Canaveral on Monday to talk about a new transportation bill that would increase federal funding to ports.

Mica is proposing a reform that would take the full amount of Harbor Maintenance Trust funds to be used for port and harbor maintenance. The funds are collected from shippers that utilize the nation's coastal ports--they pay fees to the government to use the port that equal more than a billion dollars a year.

The transportation bill, the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, provides long-term funding and critical program reforms for the improvement of the nation's roads and bridges.

The measure also prevents Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund revenues from being used to funnel other federal spending and be invested for their intended use. In the past the government has used the money randomly. The legislation is proposing that money go back to the ports.

The government invests a certain portion of the user fees back into harbor maintenance. 

By the end of fiscal year 2012, the Harbor Trust Fund could show a balance of nearly $7 billion.  

Mica also talked about Port Canaveral's expansion project. Port Canaveral is undergoing approximately $100 million in construction projects in 2012, including a new cruise terminal, a new cargo terminal, a new fire station, and new welcome center.