Strong Maritime Support Evident in House Hearing
Earlier this week, the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing on the “State of the U.S. Maritime Industry: Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Among those testifying was Ben Bordelon, Chairman of the Shipbuilders Council of America.
In respective opening statements, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), chair of the full committee, and U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-California), subcommittee chairman, expressed unwavering support for the industry. DeFazio stated, “In the year since the virus was first detected in the United States, the maritime industry has endured significant hardships and has experienced substantial impacts to business. It is vitally important that this committee understand how the pandemic has affected the reliability and efficiency of our maritime industry and its workers, the gaps that still exist in protecting the workforce from the virus, the lessons that have been learned from the federal government’s response to the pandemic so far, and potential next steps to better protect the maritime industry and workforce from COVID-19 and any future public health crisis we may confront.”
Carbajal briefly reviewed the key components of American-flag shipping and then added his support for the nation’s freight cabotage law. “The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 or Jones Act safeguards our country and economy and provides guaranteed work to American merchant mariners; ensuring government and civilian goods, people and equipment are carried by U.S.-flagged ships and U.S. citizens,” he said. “In my district, which encompasses Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, and portions of Ventura County, maritime and seafaring is an essential way of life.”
Senate Reveals Appropriations Committee Leaders
The Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled its roster today, divulging the much-anticipated assignments for subcommittee leaders in charge of crafting government funding bills over the next two years. Among the shakeups, nine of the 12 subcommittees have new chairs and three have new ranking members, along with a slew of other new assignments on each panel. Sen. Jon Tester has been picked to lead the Defense panel, charged with allocating almost $700 billion in military funding each year. The Montana Democrat was seen as the favorite to succeed Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) atop the subcommittee, since Durbin relinquished the post in his rise to chair of the Judiciary Committee.
Other subcommittees with new chairs:
— Agriculture-FDA: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
— Financial Services: Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
— Homeland Security: Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
— Interior-EPA: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
— Legislative Branch: Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
— Military Construction-VA: Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
— State-Foreign Operations: Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)
— Transportation-HUD: Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
Subcommittees with new ranking members:
— Energy-Water: Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.)
— Financial Services: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.)
— Legislative Branch: Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.)
Shelby Won't Seek Re-Election in 2022
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) announced Monday that he won’t seek reelection to a seventh term after more than four decades in Congress. Shelby, who chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee until Democrats won control of the chamber last month, has long been seen as likely to retire in 2022. The 86-year-old Republican is the fourth most senior member of the upper chamber and the longest-serving senator from Alabama. He has chaired several committees over the course of his career, including the powerful Appropriations Committee, where he's still the top Republican, and the Banking Committee, of which he’s the longest-serving member.
The Alabama Republican’s announcement officially kicks off a mad scramble in the state for the primary to replace him. Rep. Mo Brooks, who lost in the primary in the 2017 special election, confirmed in a statement that he’s considering a run. Other potential candidates include Katie Boyd Britt, a former chief of staff to Shelby who leads the business lobby in the state, Secretary of State John Merrill, who dropped out of the 2020 race, and Rep. Gary Palmer, who contemplated running last cycle but passed.