A Senate committee on Wednesday approved the Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Roger Wicker on Tuesday.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Wednesday approved by voice vote the Maritime Administration (MARAD) Authorization and Enhancement Act, which authorizes appropriations for the fiscal year 2020.
The bill includes $600 million for the Port Operations, Research and Technology (PORT) Act, which authorizes grants for port and intermodal projects. The bill states, “No funds shall be used for a grant award to purchase fully automated cargo-handling equipment that is remotely operated or remotely monitored with or without the exercise of human intervention or control” if the secretary determines the equipment would result in a net loss of jobs related to the movement of goods through a port and its intermodal connections.
“With 70% of purchasing power outside the U.S., it is imperative that we improve our port efficiency,” said Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (pictured above), D-Wash. “U.S. products need to reach global markets without delay. Doubling the port grant authorization program and giving new tools to small ports will help the U.S. be more competitive.”
The MARAD authorization bill also authorizes $40 million for the Small Shipyard Grant Program, full funding of the Title XI maritime guaranteed loan program and a program to support infrastructure development at Department of Defense-designated strategic ports, among other areas.
Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., introduced the legislation, which was co-sponsored by Cantwell, Tuesday. It was among five bills the committee approved Wednesday.