Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) is set to become co-chair of the House of Representatives’ Ports, Opportunity, Renewal, Trade and Security (PORTS) Caucus after the departure of its previous co-chair, former Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D-CA).
Lowenthal’s ascent to co-chair comes after Hahn’s campaign to become one of the County of Los Angeles’ five supervisors ended earlier this month when she defeated Steve Napolitano, a top aide to the outgoing Don Knabe. Lowenthal was appointed to the position was as part of an agreement between Hahn and the caucuses’ other co-chair, Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas).
Lowenthal, whose district is centered in Long Beach and is home to one of the busiest port complexes in the world, had previously served as a member of the caucus since joining congress in 2013.
The caucus was co-founded by Hahn in 2011, along with Congressman Poe, who will serve with Lowenthal as a co-chair. The PORT caucus was designed to serve and promote the importance of the nation’s ports to the national economy, as well as the need to secure them.
“America’s ports are the vital economic engines of not only the hundreds of port communities across America, but they are key components of our national economy,” Lowenthal said in a statement. “I am honored to follow Congresswoman Hahn as co-chair and look forward to working with Congressman Poe and all the Members of the caucus to find ways together to promote our ports, keep them safe, and maintain their financial success.”
America’s ports are made up of a network of over 350 commercial sea and river ports that transport an estimated $3.8 billion worth of goods through all 50 states on a given day. Nearly all of the country’s overseas cargo is moved through this network which generates nearly $4 trillion in international trade.
For Lowenthal, it will be the 35th caucus he serves on and the sixth in which he serves a leadership role. He serves as the chairman of the House Safe Climate and Green Schools caucuses and serves as a vice-chair for the House LGBT Equality, Sustainable Energy & Environment and the STARBASE caucus, a Department of Defense initiative that provides Science, Technology, Education and Math (STEM) education to schools nationwide.
In his career as an elected official, Lowenthal has over 20 years of experience dealing with Port issues, including serving as the chair of the California State Senate Committee and the California Select Committee on Ports for 14 years during his tenure in the state legislature.
While the caucus lacks the oversight capacity of a congressional committee, its 120 members that represent various regions with economic ties to the ports will help advocate for increased security at American ports, visit facilities to educate its members and hold briefings on port issues among other things.
In a statement, Poe said he looked forward to his new partnership with Lowenthal as leaders of the PORTS caucus.
“From the Port of Houston to the Port of Long Beach, our ports provide U.S. businesses with access to markets around the world and the opportunity to grow and create new American jobs, as well as support the 23 million people whose jobs depend on ports,” Poe said. “While I will miss working with Congresswoman Hahn, a strong advocate for our nation’s ports, I look forward to working with Congressman Lowenthal in the 115th Congress to help ensure that our ports remain strong and successful.”