Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Senate Approves Bill To Fund Government Through March 11

Washington, D.C.—The Senate easily approved a procedural motion to proceed to another stopgap measure to keep federal agencies funded through March 11.

Passed by a vote of 65 to 30, the Senate action came as the government veered toward a possible partial shutdown over the weekend.

Funding under a current stopgap measure was to expire at midnight February 18.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urged his fellow senators to approve the motion and give appropriators more time to complete work on an omnibus package for fiscal year 2022.

“A government shutdown would be useless, senseless,” Leahy said.

He complimented the ongoing negotiations to hammer out an omnibus appropriations measure that would allow major changes in the way government programs would be funded for the last half of the current fiscal year.

Stopgap measures traditionally do not allow such changes.

H.R. 6617, the continuing resolution (CR), was previously passed by the House, which is not in session and not expected to return for votes until the end of the month.

“It must pass in its current form,” Leahy said, urging senators to not only support final passage of the CR but oppose any amendments to the legislation.

Medical Certificate Applications

The National Maritime Center (NMC) said on average more than 10 percent of the 50,000-plus applications received annually from merchant mariners applying for medical certificates are missing information.

Reasons that mariners receive an Al (awaiting information) letter for medical certificate applications range from the general such as visual acuity not meeting regulations as listed in the Merchant Mariner Medical Manual to the specific such as required tests incompletely documented and missing height, weight, pulse rate or blood pressure.

For additional information on completion of the CG-719K, contact the NMC Help Desk at 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662).

Homeport Data Outages 

The Coast Guard reported intermittent outages when matching data from the Homeport application, referred to as MTAD, to a mariner’s training record in the Merchant Mariner Licensing and Documentation system.

Data uploaded to MTAD are not lost and will match the mariner’s training record as soon as system connectivity is restored, the National Maritime Center (NMC) reported.

“Training providers should continue to upload data AND provide students with an approved course completion certificate for submittal with their credential application,” the NMC said, adding training providers also should save a copy of the confirmed MTAD upload with course records.

“Training providers should continue to utilize the comma-separated values (CSV) file option.”

For questions or feedback, contact the NMC Customer Service Center by e-mailing IASKNMC@uscg.mil or calling 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662).

Launch Barge Register

The Maritime Administration (MarAd) is requesting changes to the current Register of U.S.-Flag Launch Barges as part of its annual update.

Due by March 16, comments may be submitted electronically via www.regulations.gov or by mail or hand delivery at the Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, West Building, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590.

For additional information, contact Jennifer Meurer by email at Jennifer.Meurer@dot.gov.

Vekich Joins FMC

Veteran longshoreman Max Vekich was sworn in as a member of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and quickly identified moving cargo as his top priority.

“Since my first day on the waterfront, my work ethic has always been to keep cargo moving,” Vekich said.

“Keeping cargo moving is the mindset and emphasis needed to identify and address port and supply chain issues.”

FMC Chairman Daniel Maffei welcomed both Vekich and the experience he brings.

“He understands port and supply chain issues from the perspective of a worker on the frontlines of making cargo move,” Maffei said.

Nominated by President Joe Biden, Vekich was confirmed by the Senate on February 10 by a vote of 51 to 43, and became the 43rd person to serve on the FMC.

His term expires June 30, 2026.

Over the course of his 40-year career as a longshoreman, Vekich held leadership positions within the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), serving as president of ILWU Local 52 and on the ILWU International Executive Committee.

A native of Aberdeen, Wash., he has resided in Seattle since 2004.

N-MERPAC Virtual Meeting

The Office of Merchant Mariner Credentialing is hosting a virtual intersessional meeting February 22 and 23 of the National Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (N-MERPAC) subcommittee on STCW Convention and Code Review.

Set to convene at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. EST on both days, the subcommittee will meet through Microsoft Teams.

N-MERPAC offers recommendations to the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security through the commandant of the Coast Guard on matters relating to personnel in the U. S. Merchant Marine including the training, qualifications, certification, documentation and fitness of mariners.

This subcommittee provides recommendations on areas of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended (STCW), and the Seafarers Training, Certification & Watchkeeping (STCW) Code to be considered during a potential review at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Anyone who is not part of the N-MERPAC e-mailing list and would like to attend this subcommittee meeting should contact Megan Johns Henry at megan.c.johns@uscg.mil.

Demurrage And Detention Billings

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is seeking comments on whether it should require common carriers and marine terminal operators to include certain minimum information on or with demurrage and detention billings.

In addition, the FMC is interested in receiving comments on whether common carriers and marine terminal operators should be required to adhere to certain practices regarding the timing of demurrage and detention billings.

Comments should be submitted by March 17.

These changes were recommended by the Fact Finding Officer in Commission Fact Finding 29: International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement.

For additional information, contact William Cody at 202-523-5725.