Director’s Log

Last November, Sen. David Vitter stated that this year would be his last in the U.S. Senate. He also announced his retirement, which follows a distinguished political career that began 24 years ago.

Sen. Vitter entered the political arena in 1992 when he was elected into the Louisiana House of Representatives, in which he represented the 81st Louisiana district. In 1999, he was elected into the U.S. House of Representatives where he served Louisiana’s First District until 2005. He was elected thereafter to the U.S. Senate, where he’s been an integral part of several committees: Committee on Environment and Public Works, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship among others.

During his tenure, Sen. Vitter has been an advocate of the American farmer, small business, fiscal responsibility, coastal restoration, law enforcement, strengthening our military and defense, supporting our service members and their families, and a promoter of fair trade and free market economics in energy production. All very important issues. But most important of all, from a ports perspective, is his involvement in the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

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In 2014, the bipartisan Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA), which promotes investment in the nation’s waterway infrastructure, accelerates project delivery, and reforms the execution of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) projects, was signed into law. It is the modus operandi by which projects are authorized to be studied, planned, and developed. In addition, one of its main goals is to increase harbor funding to its legislated level, which, historically, only received about half of the money collected just for that purpose. The amended act authorized $12.5 billion over the next 10 years toward port-related projects. As Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Sen. Vitter led the movement urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to set the funding levels for harbor maintenance at the levels authorized by WWRDA.

For his efforts in passing WWRDA, Sen. Vitter received the American Association of Port Authorities’ (AAPA) 2015 “Port Person of the Year” award. According to AAPA, it was his “political expertise and influence” that was instrumental in increasing federal appropriations for America’s ports and waterways. This award was given in recognition of his advocacy for improving transportation infrastructure needs of America’s ports, both in facilitating safe intermodal operations through funding programs like Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) and in protecting port assets through funding such as the Port Security Grants program.

Most recently, because of the efforts of Sen. Vitter, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that provides $1.3 billion for funding for Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) work which is $37 million more than the 2016 funding and $160 million above the HMT target.

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Sen. Vitter has received other awards and commendations for his achievements in advancing the maritime industry and water resources, including the 2010 Congressional Leadership Award from the Propeller Club of the United States, the 2013 Congressional Leadership Award from the National Waterways Conference and the 2015 Waterways Council Inc. Leadership Service Award for outstanding championship of the inland waterways and its infrastructure. This July, he will be the recipient of the prestigious C. Alvin Bertel Award, presented each year to an individual who has made significant contributions to the Louisiana port community. And that he has.

Senator Vitter, on behalf of the Port of South Louisiana and all ports in the country, we thank you, Sir.

Paul G. Aucoin
Executive Director

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