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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman John Katko (24th District of New York)

OSWEGO, NY— Today, U.S. Reps. John Katko (R, NY-24) and Anthony Brindisi (D, NY-22) urged Congressional Leaders to include measures in future COVID-19 response packages to provide necessary relief to the Port of Oswego and other ports across the country.

With the COVID-19 pandemic creating significant disruptions in the global supply chain, U.S. ports have been forced to contend with slowed production and decreased shipping activity. These uncertain conditions have drastically increased financial strains on port operations, all while raising costs associated with ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. With these challenges in mind, Reps. Katko and Brindisi sent a bipartisan letter to Congressional Leaders requesting federal relief for our nation’s ports and increased investments in water infrastructure amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In emphasizing the need for additional resources, the lawmakers highlighted the significant role of the Port of Oswego in maintaining access to regional commerce for Central New York.

“U.S. ports play a critical role in the health of the American economy, as well as in the security of the domestic and international supply chain,” said Rep. Katko. “As lawmakers continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am proud to join Rep. Brindisi in calling for increased federal investments in our nation’s ports and water infrastructure. These issues are critical for Central New York, where the Port of Oswego continues to act as a major employer and critical access point to commerce for our manufacturers and farmers.”

“The Port of Oswego is a major economic driver for our region, supporting countless Upstate farmers, producers, and manufacturers,” said Rep. Brindisi. “It provides a lifeline for trade and brings millions of dollars in economic activity and hundreds of jobs to our communities. Like many ports across the country, the Port of Oswego has faced significant disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we must ensure they have the strong federal support they need to recover from this crisis.”

 “I applaud Representatives Katko and Brindisi for working to highlight the needs of the Port of Oswego during these unprecedented times,”said William W. Scriber, Executive Director of the Port of Oswego Authority. “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and a disruption of business, the Port of Oswego has experienced huge financial losses. We are thankful for their partnership and efforts to provide federal assistance.”

The full text of the letter can be found below:

April 30, 2020


Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:

We write to bring attention to the significant financial hardships many of our nation’s ports are facing as a result of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Given the essential role ports play in maintaining the U.S. supply chain, it is critical that the Federal Government provides the support and relief necessary for ports to maintain their operations during this unprecedented crisis. 

For our constituents, the Port of Oswego in Oswego, New York acts as a major economic driver and access point for regional commerce. Serving as the first U.S. port of call and deepwater port on the Great Lakes from the St. Lawrence Seaway, nearly 120 vessels and more than one million tons of cargo pass through the Port of Oswego each year. The Port also plays a critical role in supporting manufacturers and agricultural producers across Central New York by ensuring market access for domestic and international shipping. 

Unfortunately, ports across the U.S., including the Port of Oswego, are facing significant challenges to their operations and finances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the costs associated with maintaining a safe and healthy environment for their workers, ports must contend with disruptions to the global supply chain and declining production across the economy. For many ports, stagnation in the tourism and recreational boating industries further exacerbate these harsh economic conditions. 

In the months ahead, strong federal support for U.S. ports will be critical to ensuring communities across the country can effectively participate in economic recovery efforts. For this reason, we request the consideration of relief options that provide substantive support to our nation’s ports in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Critically, we ask that such assistance be accessible to ports of varying sizes and management structures, ensuring that no communities are excluded from this support and are able to continue to participate in international commerce and the global supply chain. 

Additionally, we request the consideration of legislation that strengthens federal investments in the water infrastructure projects that many of our nation’s ports depend on. Although we are grateful that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act provided increased funding through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), additional measures are needed to ensure these funds can be used toward the full extent of our nation’s water infrastructure maintenance backlog. For this reason, we introduced the Safer Harbors for Our Recreation Economy (SHORE) Act earlier this year to ensure that the full scope of economic impacts are considered in cost-benefit analyses for HMTF projects. The consideration of such language would ensure sustained investments in water infrastructure projects that benefit many of our nation’s ports and coastal communities.

Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter. We look forward to continuing our work to support America’s ports.