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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to the media before he departs the White House for Florida, in Washington, U.S., January 30, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to the media before he departs the White House for Florida, in Washington, U.S., January 30, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Bipartisan Lawmakers Urge President Biden to Strengthen U.S. Maritime Power

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2768
January 30, 2024

A group of bipartisan, bicameral lawmakers led by U.S. Congressman Mike Waltz (FL-06) and Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) have issued a letter to President Biden urging him to fortify the United States’ maritime power amid pressure from China.

The letter comes as the U.S. is at an “inflection point” in international maritime affairs, with People’s Republic of China (PRC) rapidly expanding its strategic influence in the maritime domain, particularly in the South China Sea, and the Houthis are launching attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

The lawmakers, numbering 17 in total, have proposed several measures to President Biden to help prioritize U.S. maritime defense. They have asked for the establishment of an interagency maritime policy director, the classification of maritime infrastructure as “critical infrastructure”, the invocation of the Defense Production Act (DPA) for shipbuilding, and the development of a comprehensive government strategy to decrease dependency on Chinese maritime infrastructure and industry.

The letter underscores the condition of U.S. maritime infrastructure, pointing out that it is aging, including naval and commercial shipyards that once were renowned for producing world-class ships. The lawmakers highlighted that the U.S. flagged international trading fleet has noticeably dwindled due to underinvestment in the Merchant Marine and maritime workforce.

The lawmakers also emphasized the United States’ strong maritime tradition and cautioned that reversing the current state of the shipbuilding and shipping industries will not be a swift process, given the years of neglect. They urged immediate action to revitalize American and allied maritime power on the seas, warning that delay could be costly.

While the letter recognizes the Secretary of the Navy’s efforts to establish a “Maritime Statecraft” strategy aiming to create favorable conditions for U.S. and allied maritime activities, it asserts that “de-risking” in the maritime domain from strategic competitors requires national focus, requiring not only Presidential attention and resources but also Congressional support.

The letter, which you can read here, was co-signed by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Rick Scott (R-FL), as well as Representatives James R. Baird (R-IN-4), Jack Bergman (R-MI-1), Byron Donalds (R-FL-19), Neal P. Dunn (R-FL-2), Brad Finstad (R-MN-1), C. Scott Franklin (R-FL18), John Garamendi (D-CA-8), Nick LaLota (R-NY-1), Doug Lamborn (R-CO-5), Richard McCormick (R-GA-6), James C. Moylan (R-GU- District At Large), and John H. Rutherford (R-FL-5).

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