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Calls Industry Vital to “National Security and Economic Vitality”
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Congress last week enacted the strongest statement of support for the Jones Act and the American domestic maritime industry since the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. The measure was included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 3979), which noted that the national security benefits of the domestic maritime industry and the Jones act are “unquestioned.” The bill states that the Jones Act and the American domestic maritime industry are vital to “the national security and economic vitality of the United States and the efficient operation of the United States transportation system.” The legislation has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate and is expected to be signed into law by the President.
“Today, Congress reaffirmed its support for the American domestic maritime industry, the Jones Act, and the critical role both play in the national security and economic vitality of our nation,” said American Maritime Partnership Chairman Tom Allegretti. “It is hard to imagine a more emphatic and unambiguous statement of support for the Jones Act than this legislation. The fact that it originated from both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees is only further evidence of the national security benefits of the Act and the American domestic maritime industry. In fact, this is the strongest Congressional statement of support for the Jones Act since the Merchant Marine Act of 1936.”
The Congressional statement of support for the Jones Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act specifically states:
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) recently noted the Jones Act contributions to America’s national security, saying “without the Jones Act, vessels and crews from foreign nations could move freely on U.S. waters, creating a more porous border, increasing possible security threats and introducing vessels and mariners who do not adhere to U.S. standards into the bloodstream of our nation.”
According to a report from the Lexington Institute, “Without the Jones Act, the Department of Homeland Security would be confronted by the difficult and very costly task of monitoring, regulating, and overseeing all foreign-controlled, foreign-crewed vessels in internal U.S. waters.”
Full text of the National Defense Authorization Bill’s statement of support for the American domestic maritime industry: H.R. 3979 National Defense Authorization Act
SEC. 3503. SENSE OF CONGRESS ON THE ROLE OF DOMESTIC MARITIME INDUSTRY IN NATIONAL SECURITY
(a) FINDINGS.—Congress finds that—
(1) the United States domestic maritime industry carries hundreds of million of tons of cargo annually, supports nearly 500,000 jobs, and provides nearly 100 billion in annual economic output;
(2) the Nation’s military sealift capacity will benefit from one of the fastest growing segments of the domestic trades, 14 domestic trade tankers that are on order to be constructed at United States shipyards as of February 1, 2014;
(3) the domestic trades’ vessel innovations that transformed worldwide maritime commerce include the development of containerships, self-unloading vessels, articulated tug-barges, trailer barges, chemical parcel tankers, railroad-on-barge carfloats, and river flotilla towing systems;
(4) the national security benefits of the domestic maritime industry are unquestioned as the Department of Defense depends on United States domestic trades’ fleet of container ships, roll-on/roll-off ships, and product tankers to carry military cargoes;
(5) the Department of Defense benefits from a robust commercial shipyard and ship repair industry and current growth in that sector is particularly important as Federal budget cuts may reduce the number of new constructed military vessels; and
(6) the domestic fleet is essential to national security and was a primary source of mariners needed to crew United States Government-owned sealift vessels activated from reserve status during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in the period 2002 through 2010.
(b) SENSE OF CONGRESS.—It is the sense of Congress that United States coastwise trade laws promote a strong domestic trade maritime industry, which supports the national security and economic vitality of the United States and the efficient operation of the United States transportation system.
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