Congresswoman Laura Richardson
Congresswoman Laura Richardson Questions Department
of Transportation Official on Lack of TIGER Grant Funding
for Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles
Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-CA37) went to bat for the workers and industries that depend upon the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles by asking tough questions of Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari concerning the ports being excluded in the awarding of Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) stimulus grants. The questioning took place during a February 23 Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting, of which Congresswoman Richardson is a member.
"I find it hard to understand how you can fund port communities in general, but not fund the largest port complex in America," Congresswoman Richardson challenged Porcari during the meeting. "I will be requesting a briefing on the rationale for excluding a port complex that established a new national container record in 2009 for moving an impressive 8.5 million TEUs, and is the busiest in America. Particularly at such a precarious moment when maintaining and creating jobs is our top priority."
In its grants awards process, the Department of Transportation awarded various state and local governments and transit agencies $1.5 billion in TIGER Discretionary Grants. The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles had worked together on a request for more than $365 million from the program, but were awarded nothing.
In response to Congresswoman Richardson's questioning, Pocari said, "There was overwhelming demand" for TIGER funding and he stressed that there will be future rounds of this grant program. He added that the Department of Transportation is also still in the process of streamlining the process and that the goal of the administration to increase transparency of the grant process had "turned into a bit of an administrative burden."
"While the programs funded by this round of TIGER grants are deserving, there is a major need for the requested funding at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles," Congresswoman Richardson said following the committee meeting. "The process for awarding these grants needs to be clear, so we can make sure future grants go to where they are needed most. These ports are not only important to the people who live and work around them, but to the entire national economy, making it a national priority to keep them operating."