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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today introduced the "U.S. Port" Act aimed at preserving jobs and maintaining a healthy local economy in the Puget Sound region.

Murray's bill would exempt ports within 200 miles of a foreign container port from paying the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT), a federal tax imposed on the wholesale value of goods imported by ship into the US and used to fund maintenance and dredging at US ports. Puget Sound ports use limited HMT funds and neither the Ports of Seattle nor Tacoma require dredging to keep the waterways open.

"We must do all we can to keep jobs and business in the Puget Sound area," Senator Murray said. "Neither the Port of Tacoma nor the Port of Seattle require dredging to keep waterways open, yet they are saddled with a fee that competing ports like the Port of Vancouver, B.C. do not face. Without this legislation we risk losing some of our community's best jobs to foreign ports."

Over the last ten years, container traffic into the Port of Vancouver, B.C., which faces no HMT equivalent, has quadrupled while activity at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma has only marginally increased. The HMT averages about $125 per import container at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma. With regular port charges at these ports averaging under $200, the HMT is a substantial additional cost and strain on Puget Sound Ports.