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Congresswoman Schenk Debuts Legislation To Rehab Maritime Industry

Citing budget restraints which would prevent funding for new initiatives, CongresswomanLynn Schenk of California introduced legislation that would, as the Congresswoman points out, be a budget neutral approach.

The plan would reserve up to 30 percent of U.S. oil imports and 50 percent of U.S. motor vehicle imports for U.S.-documented vessels. The law, as proposed, would remain in effect until the top 10 foreign shipbuilding countries end subsidies to its maritime industries.

Congresswoman Schenk points to a recent Transportation Department survey—which shows that of 57 maritime nations, all of them provide maritime subsidies, 70 percent of them have bilateral cargo preference agreements, and 40 percent enforce a general cargo reservation requirement— to state a case that the U.S. maritime industry is in crisis, in need of strengthening, similar to legislation passed by Congress in 1974 in response to the oil crisis.

Dubbed the Merchant Marine Revitalization Act of 1994, the plan would purportedly open a portion of the international shipbuilding market to U.S. shipyards by creating a demand for U n - documented, U.S.-built and U.S.-crewed tankers and Ro/Ro vessels, it is claimed.

Projections by the Congresswoman claim it would provide order for about 130 ships and jump start the revitalization of the U.S. shipbuilding and ship repair industry, while at the same time ease the transition from defense to the civilian market without generating federal deficit pressure. The act, in its infancy, is designed to augment the maritime programs passed last year.

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