Chairman Carbajal: “The Jones Act Safeguards Our Country and Economy”
WASHINGTON – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation yesterday convened a hearing titled “State of the U.S. Maritime Industry: Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic” that included testimony from a broad set of U.S. maritime leaders.
One of the leaders, American Maritime Partnership (AMP) President Mike Roberts, stressed in his written and verbal testimony that American Maritime “has risen to the occasion to keep America moving during this historic pandemic,” and noted for the Subcommittee that American Maritime is a unique bright spot of unity in an otherwise volatile policy environment, emphasizing that “labor and management stand together on almost every policy issue.”
While Mr. Roberts stressed the efforts of American Maritime workers through the pandemic, calling them ‘heroes,’ he urged the Subcommittee that “not enough has been done yet” to help essential frontline maritime workers. He called for “priority access to testing” and to the COVID-19 vaccine following priority health communities such as the elderly and frontline workers, as mariners work to move essential cargoes (such as medicines, personal protection equipment), ensuring grocery stores are stocked and fuel is delivered, among many other critical movements.
Referring to clarification in the recently signed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Pub. L. 116-283) affirming the applicability of the Jones Act to the Outer Continental Shelf, Mr. Roberts told members of the Subcommittee:
“The development of offshore wind power represents what may be a generational opportunity for the American Maritime industry, producing dozens of vessels and tens of thousands of jobs, tens of billions of dollars in economic output, and plays a significant role in decarbonizing electricity production in the United States.”
But he warned the Subcommittee repeatedly both in his written and oral testimony of the impending threat of China in its ambition for global maritime dominance, stating: “The Chinese commercial maritime industry [ ] puts U.S. national security interests at risk both in peacetime and in the event of a conflict.”
“Many believe that after COVID, the most significant national security challenge we face is geopolitical competition with China.” He continued, “we have a serious vulnerability, but we don’t have a policy response . . .. We need to deny China success in its maritime ambitions.”
Members of Congress lauded the role the Jones Act plays in America’s domestic and national security:
Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Salud Carbajal (D-CA) began the hearing by recognizing the importance of the Jones Act, stating, “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. flag ships and U.S. citizens.” And he applauded President Biden for affirming support for the Jones Act.
Also expressing support for the Jones Act was Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter (D-OR) DeFazio who stated – “We cannot and should not have to compete with foreign flagged vessels that are flagged in countries that really don’t exist” and “We simply have to rebuild our domestic fleet and the Jones Act is absolutely key to that. And this president has already mentioned his strong support for the Jones Act.”
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) – “We must always, always support the Jones Act which ensures that all vessels transiting cargo between domestic ports, as we all know here, are made in the United States. This policy is important for economic and military security and has broad bipartisan support, which is a good thing.”
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) – “A lot has been said as well about the Jones Act and I think most people on this Committee understand the essential nature of the Jones Act in protecting our national security and ensuring that the industry is strong moving forward.”
This hearing was conducted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the wake of the recent ‘Buy American’ Executive Order signed by President Biden emphasizing the importance of the American Maritime industry to our economic and national security. The American Maritime industry creates 650,000 jobs nationwide with an economic impact of more than $150 billion annually.
For more information about the domestic maritime industry, or the importance of the Jones Act to American economic and national security, please visit www.AmericanMaritimePartnership.com.
American Maritime Partnership (AMP) is the voice of the U.S. domestic maritime industry, a pillar of our nation’s economic, national, and homeland security. More than 40,000 American vessels built in American shipyards, crewed by American mariners, and owned by American companies, operate in our waters 24-hours a day, seven days a week, and this commerce sustains nearly 650,000 American jobs, $41.6 billion in labor compensation, and more than $154.8 billion in annual economic output. You can learn more by visiting: www.americanmaritimepartnership.com