Wednesday, July 18, 2012

News Flash!

Reprinted directly from WHEEL HOUSE on line magazine of MM&P 


The U.S.-flag maritime industry is reeling from last week’s news that the House 
Republican leadership pushed through legislation that will reduce the U.S.-flag 
share of PL 480 Food-for-Peace cargo from 75 percent to the pre-1985 level of 50 
percent. Supporters of our industry in Congress are calling for the repeal of 
the legislation. Individual mariners worry about what it means for their future 
job prospects. 

The shipment of food aid overseas on U.S.-flag vessels is responsible for 
approximately $520 million in U.S. household earnings and $2 billion in U.S. 
economic output. About 33,000 Americans are directly employed in the 
transportation of food aid cargoes from the point of production to those in need 

As reported in last week’s Wheelhouse Weekly, the attack on cargo preference 
took place as Senate and House negotiators wrapped up work on surface 
transportation legislation, when Republican Congressman Paul Ryan--House Budget 
Committee Chair--offered language that guts U.S.-flag cargo preference 
requirements as a way to help pay for the surface transportation bill. 

“This attack on the cargo preference program and the U.S.-flag merchant marine 
took place completely outside the rules and procedures that should govern 
Congressional actions,” said the MM&P International President. “There was no 
discussion about the impact that the reduction in U.S.-flag operations would 
have on the fleet, on our nation’s economy or on national security.”
There was also no opportunity for the Congressional Committees that have 
jurisdiction over the cargo preference statute to consider the proposal or vote 
on it. And there was no opportunity for the Department of Defense--which has 
consistently supported cargo preference as a means to help maintain a militarily 
useful U.S.-flag shipping capability--to express its views. “The U.S.-flag 
merchant marine and America’s maritime workforce deserve better,” the MM&P 
President said.   

In Congress, meanwhile, supporters of the U.S.-flag maritime industry called for 
repeal of the language that cuts cargo preference. This provision “has no 
business in this legislation and harms our maritime industry,” said Congressman 
Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Ranking Democrat on the Transportation and 
Infrastructure Committee. 

The provision that cuts cargo preference “should never have been included in 
this bill, and it should be immediately repealed,” said Maryland Democrat Elijah 
Cummings. “It is imperative that the maritime industries of the United States 
remain vibrant contributors to both our national security and economy,” said 
Congressman Rick Larsen of Washington State, lead Democrat on the House Coast 
Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee. “This harmful provision does 
nothing to advance that mission.” 

“For MM&P and others in our industry, this attack on cargo preference 
requirements should serve as a call to action,” said the MM&P International 
President. “We must intensify our efforts to educate members of Congress about 
the importance of our industry through our maritime grassroots campaign. And 
every member of MM&P should get on board and support our union’s Political 
Contribution Fund so that we can help elect pro-maritime candidates.” 

To contribute to the PCF, go to 

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