Bill Introduced To Protect American Maritime Jobs

Friday, October 14, 2011

Working to create and preserve American jobs, Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings (D, MD-7) and Jeff Landry (R, LA-3) today introduced the American Mariners Job Protection Act (H.R. 3202), a bill with bipartisan support that will increase government transparency surrounding the issuance of waivers allowing non-Jones Act-qualified vessels to carry cargo between U.S. ports.   
Under current law, when the head of the agency responsible for the administration of the Jones Act believes it necessary to waive the Act’s requirements in the interest of national defense, the agency must request the Maritime Administration to assess whether Jones Act-qualified vessels are available to carry the cargo under consideration.
The American Mariners Job Protection Act would require the Maritime Administration to include in such assessments information on the actions that could be taken to enable Jones Act-qualified vessels to carry the cargo for which the Jones Act waiver is sought.  The Maritime Administration would also be required to publish its determinations on its website.  Further, the American Mariners Job Protection Act would require notification to be provided to Congress when a waiver is requested or issued.
“Our first priority in this Congress is to create and preserve jobs for Americans,” said Cummings. “This Act will increase transparency to strengthen adherence to the Jones Act and ensure we make full use of American maritime capabilities. I want to make certain that every Jones Act-qualified ship that can carry cargo is full and that every American mariner who is ready to earn a good day’s wage for a good day’s work is able to do so. This bill will do that. I thank Congressman Landry and other members on both sides of the aisle for working with me, and I hope this common sense solution will be quickly considered and enacted.”
Landry, whose district has the most domestic maritime industry jobs in the nation and transports much of the nation’s energy-based resources, is hopeful the bipartisan support of the legislation will mean prompt passage and put Americans back to work: “American mariners are the most qualified and safest workers in the world; we must ensure that they are being fully utilized. I know the American Mariners Job Protection Act will give Americans much desired government transparency and ensure that the American mariner is always the first option.  I thank Congressman Cummings for his leadership on this issue and look forward to working with him in getting this bill passed.”
Cummings and Landry introduced the American Mariners Job Protection Act following the issuance of Jones Act waivers to allow foreign vessels and foreign workers to transport petroleum products recently released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  
Even though the legislation was just introduced, it already has strong support. “The Seafarers International Union strongly supports all Congressional efforts to increase transparency, particularly when it comes to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We are pleased to support the bipartisan legislation introduced today by Congressmen Cummings and Landry and hope that Congress acts promptly to resolve this issue,” said Augustin Tellez, Executive Vice President of the Seafarers International Union. 
The American Waterways Operators (AWO) – the national trade association for the tugboat, towboat and barge industry – praises the initiative taken by Congressmen Elijah Cummings and Jeff Landry to uphold the integrity of the Jones Act and ensure compliance with the Jones Act waiver process. AWO President & CEO Thomas Allegretti said, “The 46 waivers to the Jones Act granted this summer – more than any in the history of our nation – shows us that this legislation is necessary to tighten up the national security requirements for waivers and to improve transparency in the waiver process. The industry, and the men and women who depend on it for their jobs, salute Congressmen Cummings and Landry for their leadership on this critical issue.”
The other original co-sponsors of H.R. 3202 include Rep. Bennie Thompson, Rep. Peter King, Rep. Candice Miller, Rep. Frank LoBiondo, Rep. Corrine Brown, Rep. Mazie Hirono, Rep. Nick Rahall and Rep. Rick Larsen. 

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