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Video: Murray's Remarks

Good afternoon from Washington, D.C. I’m proud to join your discussion on maritime trade, and today I want to update you on the latest news from the Senate.

We have a lot to be proud of in the Pacific Northwest when it comes to trade. At a time when our economy is slow and unemployment is high, our trade and transportation sectors represent a real bright spot - offering new opportunities for growth. Our location - and our historic ties to Asian markets - certainly help, but it’s been leaders like you who have made the most of these assets.

Today, because of your work, our state ranks high nationally on many measures. We’re second in the nation in dry bulk cargo exports. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma form the nation’s third-busiest container load center. Our shipbuilding industry is creating good jobs throughout the region. And many retail chains have opened distribution centers in Washington.

That represents real progress, but we can’t rest because our competitors are working hard to attract trade to their ports.

In the United States Senate, I’ve been proud to join with many of you to stand up for Washington state trade - and the many jobs it creates. I want to update you on 3 challenges: security, channel deepening, and mobility.


Security

Let me start with security. Since September 11th, we’ve worked hard to improve security at our ports and throughout our transportation system. After hearing from our ports, shippers, distributors and manufacturers, I created Operation Safe Commerce, a federal effort improve security throughout the supply chain.

Today, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are using new, first-in-the-nation systems to track and monitor cargo from where it’s loaded overseas onto its final destination. Last year, I secured $58 million for Operation Safe Commerce. This year, funding has been much harder because of a lack of commitment from the White House.

The White House only proposed $2.5 million for Operation Safe Commerce. In the Senate, I secured $30 million. Because the White House request was so low, we ended up with $17 million for Operation Safe Commerce.

We had a similar battle over funding to help ports address the security needs they’ve identified. For direct security grants to ports, the White House requested nothing. In the Senate, I secured $150 million. In the end, we got $125 million in direct security grants for ports. That funding became law on October 1st.

I know that port security is a national priority. The federal government cannot pass the bill to the private sector. I’ll continue to fight for the funding we need to protect our citizens and our economy.



Channel Deepening

Beyond container ships, we rely on the Columbia and Snake Rivers to bring our agricultural products to market. For the Columbia River, I’m working to make sure that we can attract larger, more cost-efficient vessels. On the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, I’ve championed funding to deepen the channel. Here’s where that funding stands.

The White House proposed nothing for Columbia River deepening. The House proposed just $2 million. In the Senate, I helped secure $5 million. The Conference committee emerged with $3.5 million.

I’m going to continue to fight to strengthen the role that the Columbia and Snake rivers play in our maritime system.

Mobility

Finally, let me turn to mobility. We can have the safest, most modern ports in the world, but if our highway and rail systems are congested, shippers will pass us by. Over the years, I’ve been proud to help secure more than $130 million for the FAST Corridor. This year, there’s more good news to report. I helped write this year’s transportation bill, and I’m pleased to announce that there’s another $3 million for FAST Corridor projects in the 2004 budget.

If you want to know more about trade, port security or transportation, I invite you to visit my website at https://www.murray.senate.gov, where you can also sign up to get my weekly email updates.

So thank you again for coming together today to help chart the future of our maritime economy. I’m looking forward to hearing reports of your discussion, and I’m ready to keep fighting in the United States Senate for Washington’s trade economy.