Pelosi criticizes proposed deep cuts to port funds 

Hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to the nation’s ports will choke San Francisco Bay’s shipping lanes with silt and result in losses in local jobs in both the private and public sector, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Saturday.

Speaking at Pier 70 in San Francisco — the largest ship repairing dry dock on the West Coast — the Democratic leader called on Republicans to continue funding port security and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Republican budget proposal would cut two-thirds of the total funding for U.S. port security grants — from $288 million to $96 million — Pelosi said. Another $480 million in engineering cuts will affect port workers in that field. It is unclear how those cuts would affect the ports of San Francisco and Oakland.

“So when people talk about trade and whether this is good for jobs or not good for jobs, one thing that we can be sure of is that unless we invest in infrastructure, dredging, etc., we are missing the boat,” she said.

The visit comes one day after House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, slammed a Democratic plan that only cut $6.5 billion in spending.

“The American people spoke loudly and clearly last November,” he said. “They want to cut spending to help create a better environment for job creation.”

Efforts to keep shipping channels deep enough to allow large ships to make it to dry dock have been an ongoing challenge, said Hugh Vanderspek, president of BAE Systems ship repair.

In February, the Carnival Splendor cruise ship was brought from Mexico to Pier 70 for repairs to its hull. When it reached San Francisco, the ship only cleared the Bay floor by 1 foot, Vanderspeck said. Past and continued investments for the Port of San Francisco have resulted in a number of infrastructure improvements, Mayor Ed Lee said. That was a key selling point in bringing the 34th America’s Cup to The City.

“Without that investment in its infrastructure, without that focus, we would not have a competitive bid at the America’s Cup today,” Lee said.

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