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AAPA Selects 2019 Port Person of the Year

Mario Diaz-Balart
Mario Diaz-Balart

By The Maritime Executive 2019-03-14 17:43:49

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has selected U.S. Congressman and House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee Ranking Member Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL) as 2019’s “Port Person of the Year” for his stalwart advocacy of the port industry.

“In his more than 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Díaz-Balart has consistently championed legislation to benefit our nation’s ports,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president and CEO. “Through both words and deeds, he’s demonstrated a keen understanding of how ports play a central role in driving our nation’s economy and creating good American jobs.”

Díaz-Balart, who also co-chairs the Florida Ports Caucus, is now serving his ninth term representing Florida’s 25th Congressional District. In the fiscal 2019 House Transportation appropriations bill, he negotiated language which resulted in nearly $293 million in first-ever funding being appropriated for the Port Infrastructure Development Program within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. The program’s goal is to fund infrastructure improvements that enhance U.S. port competitiveness and the ability of coastal seaports to effectively handle the movement of goods in America’s supply chain.

“This recognition is well deserved,” said PortMiami Director and CEO Juan M. Kuryla. “Having engaged with PortMiami and numerous other ports over the years through his position on the Florida Ports Caucus, Rep. Díaz-Balart has consistently heard the need for dedicated funding for port projects. His first-hand knowledge of ports has a direct influence on his work in Congress where he will continue to fight for dedicated port project funding and for legislation that benefits the port industry.”

Each year, AAPA presents its Port Person of the Year award to an individual or individuals who have made significant contributions to the port industry. Recent award recipients include: U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) – 2018; U.S. Rep. Steve Scalice (R-LA) – 2017; U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) – 2016; U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Lic. Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa, General Coordinator of Mexican Ports and Merchant Marine – 2015; U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) – 2014; U.S. Reps. Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) – 2013; U.S. Rep. John Mica (R-FL) – 2012; U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) – 2011; Adm. Thad W. Allen, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard and The Honourable David L. Emerson, P.C., former Minister of Industry, International Trade and Foreign Affairs for the Government of Canada – 2010.

Mario Diaz-Balart 

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart is currently fulfilling his ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving Florida’s 25th congressional district. Diaz-Balart is a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations and is Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, in addition to serving on the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs and the Defense Subcommittees. Diaz-Balart also serves on the House Committee on the Budget. 

He serves his constituents, acting in defense of individual rights and liberties, promoting economic prosperity and supporting a strong national defense. He is well known for his advocacy of human rights and democracy around the world, as well as for his staunch support of global allies.

Diaz-Balart was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 to represent Florida’s 25th Congressional district. Prior to his time in Congress, Diaz-Balart served 14 years in the Florida State Legislature in both chambers, House and Senate. He chaired a number of different committees, including the Combined Appropriations/Ways and Means/Finance and Tax Committee.

Diaz-Balart was born on September 25, 1961 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Rafael and Hilda Diaz-Balart, and is the youngest of four brothers (Rafael, Lincoln and Jose). He studied Political Science at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Diaz-Balart currently resides in Miami, Florida, with his wife, Tia, and son, Cristian Rafael.