Port Infrastructure and Maritime Workforce

January 24, 2023

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, port congestion significantly impacted American consumers and businesses. Ships carrying perishables have been delayed, sometimes for weeks, causing produce to rot in their containers, resulting in huge losses and reduced food supply.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes historic investments in our nation’s ports, with more than $2.25 billion in the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) - the largest investment in this program to date.

Sen. Cantwell has consistently championed and co-authored the annual legislation that reauthorizes the Port Infrastructure Development Program. This program invests in port infrastructure, technology to reduce emissions at ports and infrastructure projects to help move cargo and support American workers at ports. In September 2021, Sen. Cantwell led a letter calling to boost funding for the PIDP program to help address the ongoing issues with port congestion.

In October 2022, the Department of Transportation awarded $703 million in grants to 41 projects across 22 states to improve port facilities through the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program. 

WASHINGTON PORTS AT WORK: The State of Washington received $71,488,445 in federal grants to five critical ports, including Port of Grays Harbor, Northwest Seaport Alliance and the Port of Seattle, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Port of Olympia and the Port of Port Angeles.

“Terminal 5 expansion is central to our strategy to reduce port congestion, strengthen the supply chain, and create more good-paying maritime jobs in Seattle. This $17 million grant will fund new cargo storage space needed to reduce backlogs and improve export efficiency so our farmers and exporters can get their products on ships and delivered to markets around the world. This grant will also fund the construction of additional truck lanes and scales to improve movement of freight at the port, reduce delays and lower costs facing shippers and consumers,” Sen. Cantwell said about the Northwest Seaport Alliance Port of Seattle grant

Sen. Warnock secured $16 million for the Port of Brunswick for expansion projects and $8 million for the Port of Savannah, which will ease supply chain issues and create jobs in Georgia.

“When our ports grow and thrive, so does Georgia. I speak regularly with port leaders, employees and the Army Corps of Engineers, so I understand the importance of securing these investments to make upgrades to the Port of Brunswick’s Harbor. This will improve port safety and efficiency, as well as support Brunswick’s growing economy. I’ve been laser-focused on relieving supply chain issues at our ports that have contributed to rising costs for Georgia families.” – Sen. Warnock

In August 2021, Sen. Cantwell and U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg visited Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle in Washington to see how the port is cutting maritime emissions, electrifying and decarbonizing operations to tackle climate change and increasing economic competitiveness.

“From 2005 to 2016 carbon emissions at the Port of Seattle declined 27%. That’s a big start, and we need to do a lot more to meet the investments of the future so that we can get to this goal of zero emissions. We need to address not only the emissions from cargo ships, but also trucks, trains, and smaller vessels, and that is why we fought so hard for the $2.25 billion that is in the infrastructure bill in the Port Infrastructure Development Program.” - Sen. Cantwell

“What we’re all talking about here today is how we can create infrastructure jobs for men and women in the maritime industry. We have a chance now to rebuild that maritime infrastructure, and we’re very excited to do so.” - Transportation Deputy Secretary Trottenberg

Sen. Cantwell speaks at the Port of Seattle about opportunities with the Port Infrastructure Development Program

Investing in the Maritime Workforce:

“This bill makes critical investments in America’s maritime workforce, shipyards and port infrastructure that are key to keeping our supply chains moving. It will create a new innovation center to explore cleaner fuels and new technologies to boost resilience of our maritime fleet and ensure the U.S. maritime industry remains competitive well into the future.” - Sen. Cantwell

In June 2022, Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Wicker introduced the bipartisan
U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) Reauthorization Act that invests $1.6 billion in the maritime workforce, strengthens maritime infrastructure and expands research and development into new technologies to advance fleet sustainability and innovation. The Commerce Committee passed the bill in June 2022 and passed the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act in December 2022.

Sen. Schatz included an amendment that expands diversity at the U.S. Merchant Mariner Academy (USMMA), and allows for remote locations to be considered under the Port Infrastructure Development Program. Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Markey led provisions that expand the Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance Program (META) to include offshore wind and other sustainable ocean practices. Sens. Cantwell, Wicker, Moran and Peters included the Protecting Midshipmen Act, which improves protections for USMMA midshipmen against sexual assault and sexual harassment at sea.

Read More About the Maritime Reauthorization