Washington, D.C.—President Donald Trump has laid out a plan to reboot the national economy that includes new guidelines for reopening individual states in stages depending on where they are in the battle against the coronavirus.
“We think some of the states can actually open up before the deadline of May 1,” the president said during his daily coronavirus briefing.
Trump said the approach would be strong but also safe.
“We want to get our country back, and we’re going to do it, and we’re going to do it soon,” he said.
Following a previous back-and-forth on whether such decisions on individual states were up to him or governors, Trump indicated he wants to work with governors and avoid taking “strong action” he believes presidents have.
Clearly in a less generous mood when it came to lawmakers, the president warned that he could exercise his constitutional authority to adjourn Congress over lack of action on his nominations.
Earlier in the week, leaders in both chambers announced the current recess, which was expected to end April 20, would be extended to May 4 as a week-long impasse continued over what Congress should do next on the coronavirus crisis.
That recess drew criticism from Trump, but his main target was what he saw as the Republican-controlled Senate’s failure to confirm a number of his appointments to key posts within his administration.
If the Senate adjourned officially, the president could make so-called recess appointments to fill those vacancies.
Trump stopped short of giving the Senate a deadline for confirming nominees and even conceded such an action would be challenged in court.
“We’ll see who wins,” he said.
To keep the maritime industry operating during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) granted a 180-day extension of Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWICs) that expired on or after March 1.
TSA announced the action took effect April 10 and will remain in effect through July 31.
“During this time, it is vital to move cargo expeditiously through the supply chain and to ensure that medical supplies and home goods reach healthcare centers and consumers,” the agency stated.
“Maritime facilities and vessels are an integral part of the supply chain and must continue to operate at full capacity.”
According to figures cited by the TSA, approximately 10 percent, or 234,536, of the 2,294,797 currently active TWICs will expire in the next six months.
TSA also cited social distancing practices put in place in response to the pandemic that make gatherings at enrollment centers unwise or prohibited; the closure of about one-third of its enrollment centers; and the risks introduced to applicants and staff members conducting the enrollment process.
For additional information, contact Stephanie Hamilton at 571-227-2851.
Marine Highway Grants
The Maritime Administration (MarAd) announced the availability of $9.7 million in grant funding for the Short Sea Transportation Program, commonly known as America’s Marine Highway Program (AMHP).
“The purpose of this program is to make grants available to previously designated Marine Highway Projects that support the development and expansion of documented vessels, or port and landside infrastructure,” the agency stated.
MarAd explained only Marine Highway Projects designated by the secretary of transportation before the Notice of Funding Opportunity closing date will be eligible for funding.
“Please be aware that you must complete the grants.gov registration process before submitting your application, and that the registration process usually takes two to four weeks to complete,” MarAd said.
“Applicants are strongly encouraged to make submissions in advance of the deadline.”
Applications must be received by 5 p.m. EDT April 24.
For additional information, contact Fred Jones at 202-366-1123.
Firearms At Corps Projects
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking comments on its proposal to allow individuals to possess firearms and other weapons on Corps projects without first obtaining written permission.
“This proposed revision would align the Corps regulation with the regulations of the other federal land management agencies,” the agency stated in its notice published April 13 in the Federal Register.
Written comments must be submitted by June 12.
In its notice, the Corps stated it is authorized to make the revision, adding that authority extends to ‘‘the waters of such projects’’ and ‘‘any land federally owned and administered by the Chief of Engineers.’’
For purposes of this regulation, the notice explained, this authority would cover, for example, Lake Lanier in northern Georgia, Stanislaus River Parks in central California and Melvin Price Lock and Dam on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis.
Not covered, it added, would be projects such as ecosystem restoration, navigation channel maintenance or coastal storm risk management projects, even though they may have been authorized in a Water Resources Development Act.
For additional information, contact Stephen Austin at 202-761-4489.
Levee Safety Program
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers extended the public comment period on a draft agency guidance for its Levee Safety Program after plans for five in-person sessions on Engineer Circular 1165-2-218 were postponed because of COVID-19 concerns.
Written comments now must be submitted by July 27.
The Corps indicated the in-person sessions could be held at “a time they can be safely rescheduled’ or an alternative plan for virtual information exchange could be implemented.
“USACE recognizes that feedback from the public and our partners is key to the success of the USACE Levee Safety Program, and provides opportunity to build trusting and transparent relationships,” the Corps stated.
For additional information, contact Tammy Conforti at 202-761-4649.
Medical Advisory Committee
The Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee and its working groups are scheduled to meet April 29 via teleconference to discuss medical certification determinations for issuance of licenses, certificates of registry and merchant mariners’ documents, medical standards and guidelines for the physical qualifications of operators of commercial vessels, medical examiner education and medical research.
With a limited number of lines available on a first-come, first-served basis, the meeting is to begin at 8 a.m.
Written comments must be submitted by April 22 to ensure members receive them before the meeting.
For additional information, contact Megan Johns Henry at 202-372-1255.
NOSAC To Meet
The National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet April 28 via teleconference to discuss the safety of operations and other matters affecting the offshore oil and gas industry.
With the number of teleconference lines limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis, the meeting is set to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Written comments must be submitted by April 17 to ensure they are received by committee members before the meeting.
For additional information, contact Cmdr. Myles Greenway at 202-372-1410.
Boating Safety Advisory Council
The National Boating Safety Advisory Council and its working groups are scheduled to meet April 22 by teleconference to discuss recreational boating safety.
Set to begin at 1 p.m., the teleconference will have a limited number of lines available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Written comments must be submitted by April 15 to ensure they reach council members before the meeting.
For additional information, contact Jeff Decker at 202–372–1507.
More Coronavirus-related stories in the WJ:
April 20 issue:
April 13 issue:
April 6 issue:
March 30 issue (online only):
March 23 issue:
March 16 Issue:
March 9 issue:
March 2 issue:
February 17 issue:
February 10 issue: