Chair DeFazio Legislation to Provide Relief to Maritime Sector Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic Passes Through House
Tuesday, the Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Act (MTSERA), introduced by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), as well as two other provisions relating to and supporting the maritime industry, passed through the House as part of a DeFazio Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The provisions are designed to provide relief to those in the maritime industry during a national emergency, to increase training opportunities for merchant mariners, to authorize a new competitive grant program for projects at smaller ports and terminals, and to establish a National Shipper Advisory Committee to give U.S. importers and exporters a formal process to interact with the Federal Maritime Commission.
“I am thankful to my House colleagues for stepping up today for the maritime industry,” said Chair DeFazio. “The Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Act would for the first time authorize the Maritime Administration to provide financial assistance to stabilize and ensure the reliable functioning of the U.S. Maritime Transportation System in the event of a national emergency or disaster, including, the current COVID-19 public health emergency. The hard-working men and women of the maritime industry have kept critical goods moving during the global pandemic, and for that our thanks are not enough. This bill gives them the same protections and relief given to other industries during COVID-19.”
This bipartisan DeFazio amendment to the NDAA included four pieces of legislation supporting the maritime industry. Introduced by Chair DeFazio, the Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Act would establish a comprehensive maritime emergency relief authority to enable the Maritime Administration to provide financial assistance to stabilize and ensure the reliable functioning of the U.S. Maritime Transportation System in the event of a national emergency or disaster, including, the current COVID-19 public health emergency. The Elijah E. Cummings Mariner Workforce Development Act establishes a merchant mariner career training loan program that will provide assistance to merchant mariners who are enrolled in a course of study to obtain or upgrade a document or license. It also establishes a program to award grants to maritime training institutions to enable them to carry out demonstration projects that will support the development and implementation of new methods of recruiting, training, and retaining individuals in the merchant mariner workforce. The Coastal and Inland Ports and Terminals Commerce Improvements Act establishes a competitive grant program for projects at smaller ports and terminals and allows privately-owned terminals to compete for assistance. Finally, the amendment establishes a National Shipper Advisory Committee to advise the Federal Maritime Commission on policies relating to the competitiveness, reliability, integrity, and fairness of the international ocean freight delivery system.