Maritime industry to raise flag on Capitol Hill
A group of U.S. maritime proponents said it's more important than ever for the industry to reaffirm its presence among a new generation of Capitol Hill lawmakers.
'Over the past decade many of the industry's traditional supporters in Congress have retired or left the Hill for various reasons. As well, key staff have moved on,' said Ret. Vice Adm. Albert J. Herberger, former U.S. maritime administrator and former deputy commander-in-chief at the U.S. Transportation Command.
(The once influential House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee was dissolved in the early 1990s.)
'In the meantime our industry faces many critical legislative issues coupled with the economic realities of the times,' Herberger said.
'Granted, week after week industry representatives continue to go to bat for us in cultivating new leaders in Congress and their efforts are proving effective,' he added. 'But they can only do so much and cover so much territory. To put it bluntly, we could use a real boost.'
An ad-hoc organizing committee has been formed consisting of U.S.-flag maritime political advocates who are volunteering their time and resources to launch what's been dubbed the 'Maritime Industry Congressional Sail-in.'
The idea for the Sail-in traces its roots to the piracy events in the Gulf of Aden last April. 'That was one of those moments when the general media spotlight was focused on our industry. We asked ourselves then how can we as an industry capitalize on this and put more attention on the important issues we face day to day,' said Clint Eisenhauer, vice president of government relations for Maersk Inc., in an interview.
The committee has reached out to maritime industry and union leaders throughout the country requesting their attendance at the Sail-in, scheduled for May 13.
Herberger said the committee's goal is to invite to Washington 'a couple of hundred hard-working individuals from the maritime industry in as diverse a group as we can muster — mariners, union reps, deck hands, able bodied seamen, ship engineers, ship stewards, crane operators, vessel captains, cargo brokers, sales managers, port/terminal operators, merchant marine officers, senior company executives — to, in an organized fashion, lobby Congress.'
Eisenhauer said the committee will assemble teams of three to five industry representatives and schedule them to meet with as many lawmakers on Capitol Hill as possible on the day of the Sail-in.
'We would be endeavoring to extend maritime's reach and visibility across the Hill and, in so doing, powerfully demonstrate the value our industry brings to the nation and the U.S. economy,' Herberger said.
While registration for the event is free, attendees will be responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses. Individual U.S.-flag maritime industry organizations are encouraged to make a $1,000 contribution to help fund the Sail-in and become a recognized sponsor of the event.
For more details or to register, go here, or contact Eisenhauer by phone at (703) 351-0543 or e-mail at email@example.com.