A campaign pledge of support for the Jones Act has earned President Barack Obama the cover spot on the 2008 Annual Report of the Maritime Cabotage Task Force, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition promoting the domestic U.S.- Flag fleet.
In August 2008, then candidate Obama declared “America needs a strong and vibrant U.S.-flag Merchant Marine … That is why you … can continue to count on me to support the Jones Act….”
Maritime Cabotage Task Force (MCTF) also drove the development and passage of a new statutory requirement that the Maritime Administration (MarAd) be consulted before any decision to waive the Jones Act. MarAd now must make an affirmative determination that U.S.-flag vessels are not available to address the situation prior to the issuance of a waiver. No Jones Act waivers were issued after Hurricanes Gustav or Ike.
During 2008, MCTF was also active in addressing a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) proposed rulemaking on country of origin rules that could have had potentially adverse impacts on important prior Jones Act rulings.
MCTF also supported a proposed Interpretive Rule from CBP to prevent circumvention of the Passenger Vessel Services Act. Foreign-flag cruise ships do not pay U.S. taxes and operate largely outside of U.S. laws, and gain significant competitive advantages over U.S.-flag cruise ships. A Final Rule remains pending. Another highlight for MCTF in 2008 was joining the Navy League of the United States.
On a sad note, MCTF bid a final farewell to Board Member Charles T. Crangle who died in August. Crangle was a founding member of MCTF and Director of Congressional and Legislative Affairs for American Maritime Officers, a U.S. merchant marine labor union.
MCTF’s 2008 Annual Report is available at www.mctf.com and printed copies are also available upon request.