Congress has approved $29.9 million for the Maritime Loan Guarantee Program, or Title XI program, a $27.9 million increase over the President's Fiscal Year 2001 budget request
. Allen Walker, president of the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA) and chairman of the Title XI Coalition, said, "We're pleased that Congress has recognized that the Title XI program is an important component of our nation's maritime policy and has agreed to significantly increase funding levels over those requested by President Clinton in his Fiscal Year 2001 budget.
"Thanks to the strong Congressional support for this program, $29.9 million in new money will be available to facilitate hundreds of millions of dollars in new ship construction, creating thousands of shipyard and seagoing jobs," Walker stated. "However, even with this increase, funding has reached a historical low. We hope that the next Administration recognizes the program is at a critical juncture and proposes sufficient funding levels to enhance the viability of the Title XI program."
The Clinton Administration recommended only $2 million for Title XI loan guarantees
in its FY 2001 budget. The Title XI Coalition and others in the U.S. maritime industry lobbied Congress to significantly increase funding for the Title XI program above the President's request. As a result of the industry's efforts, the House and the Senate appropriated $10.6 million and $20.4 million, respectively, for the Title XI program in the Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary and related agencies appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2001. The conferees on the bill finally agreed to increase funding to $30 million, well above the President's request. To meet its budgetary requirements, however, Congress, in a subsequent bill, imposed government-wide rescissions of .22 percent, effectively lowering the appropriation level for Title XI to $29.9 million.
An additional $3.978 million was appropriated to the Maritime Administration for administrative expenses to carry out the guaranteed loan program.
"While Congress has provided $29.9 million for Title XI, we are still concerned that without adequate funds in future budgets many important shipbuilding projects will languish," Walker said. "An important first step next year is for the Administration to request an adequate funding level in Fiscal Year 2002 for Title XI, which we believe should be at least $50 million."