Washington Waves
Washington Waves

House Passes Second FY2020 ‘Minibus’

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. House approved its second spending package for fiscal year 2020, a $383.3 billion “minibus” that includes the previously reported $1.1 billion for the Maritime Administration (MarAd), a $63 million drop from that agency’s 2019 enacted amount.

Other amounts that stayed in H.R. 3055 for MarAd: $300 million for the Maritime Security Program, which equals its 2019 level; $225 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program, $68 million below the 2019 enacted level; and $300 million for schoolship construction, which matches the 2019 level.

Funding in the bill for the U.S. Transportation Department totals $86.6 billion, a $167 million increase over the 2019 level, with $1 billion, a $100 million boost, for BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) grants.

Approved by a largely party-line vote of 227 to 194, the package consists of five of the annual appropriations bills usually passed separately.

Democrats again promoted their bill not only for its spending on areas ranging from infrastructure to their party’s priorities such as climate change but also its rejection of President Trump’s proposals to gut certain programs.

Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, once again warned Democrats they were passing spending bills that were too partisan and based on irresponsible funding levels.

“This package, just like the first, has no chance of being signed into law,” Granger said.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, appropriation bills remain in committee awaiting action as a crucial budget agreement continues to elude congressional leaders and key White House officials.

A third fiscal year 2020 appropriations measure providing funding for the Treasury Department, the White House, the judiciary and other agencies also passed the House by a largely party-line vote of 224 to 196.

G-20 Summit

President Trump arrived in Osaka, Japan, for the G-20 summit, where he is expected to discuss trade issues with Chinese President Xi.

“We’re meeting with China,” Trump told reporters.

“Just so you know. China has been paying us billions and billions of dollars. Before I got here they never paid us 10 cents.”

In the days leading up to the trip, tariffs and trade became a much-discussed topic at various hearings in Washington.

American Association of Port Authorities President and CEO Kurt Nagle spoke of the hit expanded tariffs would have on ship-to-shore cranes in testimony during hearings held by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

At a per-crane cost of up to $14 million, AAPA pointed out that an additional 25 percent tariff would increase significantly the cost of each crane and reduce the ability of ports to make other needed infrastructure investments to improve the supply chain.

AAPA’s testimony also expressed concerns about tariffs overall.

Representatives of several individual port authorities also were among the scores of witnesses offering testimony.

Credential Date

Merchant mariner credentials would be issued by the Coast Guard on the day after an applicant’s existing credential expired under a bill advanced by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to reauthorize the Coast Guard and the Federal Maritime Commission through fiscal year 2021.

Not only would the change ensure that mariners would get the full five-year duration of their credential, but it also would remove a current penalty for early renewal, said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), the provision’s sponsor.

Garamendi also spoke of his other provisions in the bill directing the National Academy of Public Administration to complete a study of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and designating each state maritime academy or college as a center of excellence for domestic maritime workforce training and education to make additional resources available.

Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) singled out his language to ensure members of the Coast Guard, like those in the other military branches, would be paid if the government shuts down again due to a lapse in funding.

Passed by a voice vote, H.R. 3409 heads to the House floor.

Future WRDA Needs

The National Waterways Conference alerted its members to the release by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of the Section 7001 Annual Report for 2019.

“These reports are important in that they identify projects to be included in future WRDAs,” NWC stated.

“Scheduled to be issued at the beginning of February, it is believed the report was held up at the Office of Management and Budget.”

NWC provided the following link to view the report: https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll5/id/35439

As a reminder, the NWC added, the Federal Register notice to solicit proposals for the 2020 report was published in April with proposals due August 27. Details can be viewed at: https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Project-Planning/WRRDA-7001-Proposals/

MRRIC Nominations Sought

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking applications to fill vacant stakeholder representative member positions on the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC).

Applications must be received by July 26.

Created by law, MRRIC advises the Corps on a study of the Missouri River and its tributaries and to provide guidance with respect to the Missouri River recovery and mitigation activities currently underway.

For additional information, contact Lisa Rabbe at 816-389-3837.

Corps EAB To Meet

The Chief of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board (EAB) of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to meet July 10 in Irvine, Calif.

Open to the public, the meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m.

It will be held in the Board Room at the Arnold and Mable Beckman Center of the National Academy of Sciences & Engineering, 100 Academy Way, Irvine, CA 92617.

New AAPA President Named

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) announced Christopher Connor, the former global CEO of Wallenius Wilhemsen Logistics, has been named its next president and chief executive officer.

“The association’s executive committee is pleased to have found an outstanding individual to assume leadership of this hemisphere-wide association representing seaports,” said William Friedman, AAPA chairman of the board and CEO of the Port of Cleveland.

“Chris Connor has a track record of transformational leadership in the ocean shipping industry. This, combined with his deep industry knowledge and institutional tenure, makes him uniquely qualified to lead AAPA successfully into the future.”

AAPA stated that Connor will begin transitioning into his new role on September 23 and eventually succeed Kurt Nagle, who has been president and CEO since 1995.

“It’s an honor to have been selected as the next CEO of the AAPA,” Connor said.

“I’ve spent over 35 years working in the ocean shipping industry and through that lens I’ve developed a deep appreciation and respect for the vitally integral role that ports play in global commerce. I’m thrilled to take the helm at AAPA and represent its more than 130 member ports in Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States.”

Before joining WWL, Connor worked for Crowley Maritime Corporation for seven years, and United States Lines for six years.

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