Cantwell, Wicker Introduce MARAD Reauthorization to Boost Investment in U.S. Maritime Industry
U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today introduced the bipartisan U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) Reauthorization Act. The $1.6 billion bill would invest in the maritime workforce, strengthen maritime infrastructure, and expand research and development into new technologies to advance fleet sustainability and innovation. The bill would also strengthen protections against sexual assault and sexual harassment at sea.
“This bill makes critical investments in America’s maritime workforce, shipyards and port infrastructure that are key to keeping our supply chains moving,” said Sen. Cantwell. “It will create a new innovation center to explore cleaner fuels and new technologies to boost resilience of our maritime fleet and ensure the U.S. maritime industry remains competitive well into the future.”
“A strong Maritime Administration is essential for our national and economic security. I am glad to support this bill, which would improve our marine highway system, help protect against sexual assault and harassment within our merchant fleet and at the Merchant Marine Academy, support maritime education, and reauthorize the port infrastructure development program,” Sen. Wicker said.
MARAD is the principle federal agency responsible for supporting the American maritime industry through financing, shipbuilding, workforce development and port infrastructure grant programs. The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) Reauthorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 would authorize $1.6 billion to fund key programs including:
- $750 million -- Port Infrastructure Development Program
- $15 million -- Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance Program
- $318 million -- Maritime Security Program
- $120 million -- Tanker Security Program
- $40 million -- Small Shipyard Grant Program
- $112.8 million -- U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
- $80.7 million -- State maritime academies
- Requires a new National Maritime Strategy to help grow the maritime economy through shipbuilding, maritime trade, training and infrastructure.
- Establishes a Maritime Innovation Center to spur new developments including green maritime fuels and ship quieting technology, important for the recovery of marine mammals.
- Requires the Secretary of Transportation to develop a strategy to increase diversity at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
- Increases oversight and authorization for facility construction and modernization of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
- Improves protections for midshipmen against sexual assault and sexual harassment including the Improving Protections for Midshipmen Act, and other provisions to increase enforcement of sexual assault offenses at sea, improve resources and communications for midshipmen to improve safety and oversight, as well as establishing an advisory body at the United States Merchant Marine Academy to ensure that addressing sexual assault and harassment remains a priority.
- Expands existing grant programs to increase the number of U.S. maritime workers, which will help meet the demand of the growing offshore wind industry.
- Requires new efforts to improve port infrastructure resiliency and disaster preparedness.
- The bill also includes provisions to identify, develop, and evaluate ship quieting technology to help reduce the impact of vessel noise on the environment, including orcas.
- The bill also includes a study to evaluate the impact of tire runoff at ports on salmon populations.
House Adopts Funding Framework; Will Markup FY23 Spending Bills Next Week
House appropriators will hold six of their 12 subcommittee markups next week, as Democrats look to make progress on government funding measures despite the lack of a bipartisan agreement on spending levels.
The House Appropriations Committee will hold subcommittee markups for its Defense, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-VA, and Agriculture-FDA bills on Wednesday. It will hold subcommittee markups of its Homeland Security and Financial Services bills the next day. They’ll hold full committee markups June 22-30.
House Democrats decided to move ahead with spending bills after bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on top-line defense and nondefense spending bills faltered. The House voted 217-205 yesterday to adopt a rule that included a measure to deem a top-line $1.6 trillion spending level for fiscal 2023, a procedural step that allows markups to occur.
Republicans criticized the decision to tuck a procedural measure into a rule for consideration of unrelated bills, rather than moving a budget resolution to set the stage for appropriations. The committee’s markup schedule is as follows (dates subject to change):
- June 15—Defense and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs subcommittee;
- June 16—Homeland Security subcommittee;
- June 22—full committee on Defense bill; and State, Foreign Operations subcommittee;
- June 23—full committee on MilCon, VA bill;
- June 24—full committee on Homeland Security bill; and
- June 29—full committee on State, Foreign Operations bill.
House Armed Services Committee Advances NDAA Subcommittee Marks
The House Armed Services subcommittees on Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems; Strategic Forces; Seapower and Projection Forces; and Personnel all adopted their portions of the larger bill and favorably reported them to the full committee on Wednesday this week.
The Seapower Subcommittee mark would prevent the Navy from retiring five ships from the fleet and supports the Marine Corps’ call for 31 amphibious warships, according to a summary of the seapower and projection forces subcommittee’s mark of the House’s defense policy bill. According to the Subcommittee’s summary, the mark also:
- Recommends to the Full Committee that the Navy procure eight battle force ships: two Virginia-class Submarines, two Guided-missile Destroyers (DDG), one Guided-missile Frigate (FFG), one Landing Platform Dock (LPD) Flight II, one Fleet Oiler (T-AO), and one Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ship (T-ATS).
- Recommends to the Full Committee an additional $250 million in Advanced Procurement, Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy, toward a Landing Platform Dock (LPD) that will be procured in fiscal year 2024.
- Authorizes the Secretary of the Navy to enter into a multi-year procurement contract for up to 15 Guided-missile Destroyers (DDG).
- Authorizes the Secretary of the Navy to enter into a block-buy contract for up to 25 Ship-to-Shore connector crafts.
- Directs the Maritime Administrator to carry out a program to complete the design and construction in United States shipyards of up to 10 sealift vessels for use in the National Defense Reserve Fleet.
- Sets a statutory floor of 31 L-class amphibious ships.
- Prohibits retirement of the USS Vicksburg (CG-69).
- Prohibits early retirement of all four amphibious vessels proposed for fiscal year 2023 divestiture including: USS Germantown (LSD-42), USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44), USS Tortuga (LSD-46), and USS Ashland (LSD-48).
- Requires the Secretary of the Navy to consult with the Commandant of the Marine Corps on all major decisions directly concerning amphibious force structure or capability.
- Authorizes appropriations for the Maritime Administration and recommends full funding for the Maritime Security and Tanker Security Programs.
- Directs a Comptroller General review of the Navy’s amphibious warfare fleet.
- Directs a Comptroller General review of the Navy’s Guided-missile Frigate (FFG) program.
The Readiness subcommittee mark includes the following provisions:
- Creates a permanent requirement for the Navy to submit an annual 30-year maintenance plan along with its annual 30-year shipbuilding plan
The full committee markup of the FY23 NDAA will take place on June 22nd.
Ocean Shipping Overhaul Inches Close to Law as House Plans Vote
House lawmakers plan to vote this month on a Senate-passed bill that aims to stop ocean carriers from unreasonably refusing US exports, moving forward with senators’ version after repeatedly passing their own similar bill. The bipartisan legislation (S. 3580) would update ocean shipping rules in an effort to address supply chain backups after a spike in demand during the pandemic contributed to port congestion and delays. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said last week that the chamber would consider the Senate-passed legislation in June.
John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who sponsored the House bill, said the legislation would confront the “very serious problem” of US exporters not being able to get their goods abroad. Lawmakers and exporters have scrutinized ocean shipping carriers for sending empty boxes back to Asia from US ports, instead of American exports.