Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Impeachment Battle Could Impact Appropriations Process

Washington, D.C.—Legislation backed by members of the waterways industry may be left hanging in the balance after President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats hit the kind of historic impasse that not only could upend the current legislative process but possibly lead to Trump’s impeachment.

A funding boost for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tops that watch-list for the industry.

Dismissing impeachment talk among Democrats as “nonsense,” Trump made it clear that priorities ranging from gun legislation and lower drug prices to infrastructure would not advance if they persisted.

“No more anything,” the president said during a press event in New York.

Trump plays huge roles in not only signing legislation into law but getting specific bills to a floor vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made it just as clear that Congress could not ignore Trump’s comments about former Vice President Joe Biden during a call with Ukraine’s president that she said “undermines the integrity of our elections.”

“Clearly, the Congress must act,” Pelosi said, referring directly to “the need for an impeachment inquiry.”

Back on the appropriations front, the Senate is scheduled the follow the House’s lead and approve a stop-gap measure to keep the federal government through November 21.

Key developments to watch for are whether the spending bills advancing in the Senate Appropriations Committee will make it to the Senate floor and whether serious negotiations will take place to hammer out differences between the House and Senate version once the temporary funding measure is signed into law.

Electronic Publications

The Coast Guard announced the availability of an inspection circular providing that U.S. vessels may access navigation publications electronically through underway connectivity to meet domestic carriage and Safety of Life at Sea certification requirements.

Comments on Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 01-16 Change 2, which was made available along with a Deregulatory Savings Analysis, may be submitted by November 4.

Since 2010, the Coast Guard has allowed U.S. vessels to carry certain navigation publications electronically to meet U.S. domestic regulations and Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) certificate requirements, which is accepted as a common industry practice.

Furthermore, the Coast Guard stated it recognizes that the maritime industry and mariners in general have made substantial investments to ensure vessels maintain internet connectivity, even while underway.

Because mariners use navigation publications primarily for voyage planning purposes, the Coast Guard said it sees no safety barriers preventing vessels from accessing required navigation information via the internet on an as-needed basis versus keeping a publication or extract onboard.

For additional information, contact George Detweiler at 202-372-1566.

World War II Merchant Mariners

The U.S. House approved by voice vote a measure authorizing a Congressional Gold Medal to recognize the service and sacrifices of merchant mariners during World War II.

Introduced by Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), H.R. 550, the Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2019 now goes to the Senate where an identical bill, S. 133, has been introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

“Throughout the Second World War, our armed forces relied on the Merchant Marine to ferry supplies, cargo and personnel into both theaters of operation, and they paid a heavy price in service to their country,” Garamendi said.

“The Merchant Marine suffered the highest per capita casualty rate in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. An estimated 8,300 mariners lost their lives, and another 12,000 were wounded, to make sure our service members could keep fighting. Yet, these mariners who put their lives on the line were not even given veteran status until 1988.”

Christian Yuhas, vice president of American Merchant Marine Veterans and a chief engineer merchant mariner, said the time has come for the nation to honor the remaining merchant marine veterans of WWII with a Congressional Gold Medal.

“This group of unsung heroes nobly served our country by operating the ships that transported critical supplies to front lines of the war, and in doing so suffered a casualty rate higher than any other branch of the military,” Yuhas said.

“In fact, one out of every 26 casualties during World War II was a volunteer merchant mariner.”

Fishing Safety Committee

The U.S. Coast Guard announced the Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee (CFSAC) will meet October 30 via teleconference to discuss CFSAC task statement No. 01–19 on developing a voluntary best practice guide to be used by the commercial fishing industry during fishing vessel construction, maintenance and repair.

The Coast Guard stated it will consider CFSAC recommendations as part of that process.

Open to the public, the teleconference is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. EDT with limited lines available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Comments may be submitted by October 23 at www.regulations.gov

For additional information, contact Joseph Myers at 202-372-1249.

Demurrage And Detention 

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has extended the deadline for submitting public comments on a proposed interpretive rule addressing demurrage and detention practices under the Shipping Act.

Comments are now due by October 31. 

For additional information, contact Rachel Dickon at 202-523-5725.

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