Washington Waves
Washington Waves

McCarthy Hopes Debt-Limit Deal Will Include Permitting Reform

Washington, D.C.—Even as a debt-limit deal remained out of reach, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) expressed hope some version of permitting reform could be in a final package.

“I believe it can be,” McCarthy told reporters.

He took care not to oversell that idea and declined to be specific on what kind of reform could make it into the debt-limit agreement with President Joe Biden.

While confident the kind of permitting reform that could end up in the agreement would boost the economy, McCarthy conceded it would not be enough to solve all of the challenges on permitting.

McCarthy added that he had promised Biden he would continue conversations on whatever didn’t get done on permitting reform.

Several key lawmakers, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), have introduced bills on permitting reform.

On the more pressing issue of the debt-limit, McCarthy said he wanted to assure the American people an agreement would be reached before the government ran out of money.

“We are not going to default,” he said.

While both sides continued trading shots, they also continued to describe the ongoing talks as “productive.”

Ferry Grants

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced availability of $220.2 million in competitive grants to support or modernize passenger ferry service in communities across the country.

Two grant programs are included in the Notice of Funding Opportunity: $50.1 million for the Passenger Ferry Program, which supports capital projects to modernize passenger ferry systems, and $170 million for the Ferry Service for Rural Communities, a program to ensure essential service in rural communities.

Instructions for applying and eligibility information can be found on FTA’s website and in grants.gov (FTA-2023-007-TPM-PassFerry) and FTA-2023-008-TPM-Rural Ferry).

Proposals must be submitted electronically through the grants.gov “APPLY” function by 11:59 p.m. Eastern July 17.

For additional information, contact FTAFerryPrograms@dot.gov or Vanessa Williams at 202-366-4818.

Sexual Assault Policy Letter

The Office of Merchant Mariner Credentialing published CG-MMC Policy Letter 03- 23 to provide guidance on evaluating merchant mariner credential (MMC) applicants with sexual offense convictions.

Titled “Evaluation of Suitability for Applicants with Convictions for Sexual Assault,” the policy letter provides details on how the MMC applications will be evaluated.

It is available on the office’s website and National Maritime Center’s website.

Mariners can contact Mariner Credentialing Program Policy Division at MMCPOLICY@uscg.mil or 202-372-2357 for information or feedback.

Safety Equipment Regulations

The Coast Guard is accepting comments on its proposal to revise regulations associated with certain safety equipment required on board vessels and offshore facilities to align the rules with current industry practice and provide more transparency.

In addition, the Coast Guard said the proposed revisions would eliminate outdated requirements, reduce inspection and testing requirements, update standards incorporated by reference and remove obsolete sections and align them with International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea.

Comments and related material must be received by July 24.

They may be submitted identified by docket number USCG– 2020–0519 at www.regulations.gov.

For additional information, contact Lt. Jon Taylor at 202-372-1426 or Jon.T.Taylor@uscg.mil.

MMC Laminate

The National Maritime Center (NMC) announced an alternate laminate will be used temporarily for Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMCs) due to ongoing supply chain issues.

“This laminate has the same feel and print-protective qualities as the current laminate,” the NMC stated. “The only difference is the lack of holograms when the MMC is turned to the light. These MMCs are valid and can be verified using the credential verification tool.”

That tool is accessible at the NMC Home page.

The NMC also recommended that mariners keep a copy of its bulletin with their MMC.

For assistance, mariners may contact Customer Service Center via Live Chat or by calling 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662).

Chemical Transportation Committee

The National Chemical Transportation Safety Advisory Committee is scheduled to conduct a series of meetings June 14-15 in Washington, D.C., to discuss matters relating to the marine transportation of hazardous materials.

All meetings will be open to the public, and the subcommittee meetings also will be available by videoconference.

Subcommittee meetings are to begin at 9 a.m. EDT June 14.

A meeting of the full committee, which will not be available by videoconference, is to begin at 9 a.m. EDT June 15.

Meetings are to be held at the American Bureau of Shipping Group, 80 M St. SE, Suite 480, Washington, DC 20003.

To ensure comments and supporting documents can be reviewed before the meeting, submit them by May 31, preferably at www.regulations.gov.

Preregistration is required for both in-person access and the videoconferences. Attendees must pre-register by noon EDT on May 31; in-person attendance may be capped due to limited space and be on a first-come, first-served basis.

To pre-register and receive other information, contact Lt. Ethan Beard at 202-372-1419 or Ethan.T.Beard@uscg.mil.

Navigation Safety Committee

The National Navigation Safety Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet virtually June 23 on matters relating to maritime collisions, rammings and groundings; Inland Rules of the Road; International Rules of the Road; navigation regulations and equipment; routing measures; marine information; and aids to navigation systems.

Comments and supporting documentation should be submitted by June 9 to ensure they are received before the meeting and may be submitted at www.regulations.gov with docket number USCG-2023-0249 included.

Preregistration is required, and the number of virtual lines will be limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To join the meeting, request special accommodations or seek additional information, contact George Detweiler at 202-372-1566 or George.H.Detweiler@uscg.mil by 1 p.m. June 9.