Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Senate Committee Hold Hearing On Water Resources Development Act

Washington, D.C. – Leaders of a key Senate committee launched their 2024 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) effort with a hearing and an October 6 deadline for senators to submit their requests for the biennial bill.

Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, laid out their process in a three-page letter to their fellow senators.
Witnesses scheduled for the committee hearing were expected to offer views of non-federal stakeholders.

Sharing the letter with its members, the National Waterways Conference (NWC) marked the WRDA development in a news alert.

“It is recommended that you contact your senator(s) to find out their internal process for accepting WRDA 2024-related study, project and policy recommendations,” the NWC stated.

Later this year, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to kick its WRDA process into gear, and, at some point, encourage members to provide their input and priorities for the legislation.

Transportation And Housing Bill

A sharply divided House Appropriations Committee advanced its 2024 spending bill on transportation and housing following an unusually harsh debate focused mostly on three gay community projects.

By a vote of 34 to 27, the measure was sent to the full House.

Its more divisive provisions, along with proposed cuts in certain programs, are not expected to be welcomed by Senate appropriators, who are taking a more bipartisan approach on funding the government in fiscal year 2024.

According to a Republican summary, the bill provides a discretionary total of $21.5 billion to the Department of Transportation (DOT), which is $7.1 billion below fiscal year 2023 enacted level, and $753.3 million for the Maritime Administration, which is $226.9 million below the president’s budget request.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, said the bill supports the academies that train the next generation of mariners and DOT’s maritime mission with full funding for security programs.

Defense Authorization

After the House narrowly passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act of fiscal year 2024, the Senate took up its version and began working through amendments.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed hope his chamber could pass the measure without the “chaos” in the House.

“We want this process to be open and fair without being dilatory,” Schumer said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted the chamber’s process will end with a strong bipartisan vote.
The House passed its version by a vote of 219 to 210.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, applauded the bill’s passage.

In addition to praising other provisions, Rogers said the bill is laser-focused on the threat from China, which he described as the most pressing the U.S. faces.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the panel’s ranking member, also cited the provisions addressing challenges from China and other countries but accused extremist Republicans of using the measure to promote bigoted ideals.

Maritime Security Committee

The National Maritime Security Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet August 22-23 in Arlington, Va., to discuss matters relating to national maritime security, including sharing of information related to cybersecurity risks that may cause a transportation security incident between relevant federal agencies and state, local and tribal governments; relevant public safety and emergency response agencies; relevant law enforcement and security organizations; maritime industry; port owners and operators; and terminal owners and operators.

Open to the public, the meetings are set to begin at 9 a.m. EDT on both days at The American Waterways Operators, 801 N. Quincy St., Suite 500, Arlington, VA 22203.

They also will be available virtually.

To have comments available to the committee before the meeting, submit them by August 15 via www.regulations.gov.

For additional information on joining the meetings virtually, special accommodations and comments that cannot be submitted electronically, contact Ryan Owens at 202-302-6565 or ryan.f.owens@uscg.mil as soon as possible.

Medical Advisory Committee

The Coast Guard is seeking applications to fill two vacancies on the National Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee, which advises the Homeland Security secretary through the Coast Guard commandant on matters relating to the medical certification determinations for the issuance of licenses, certification of registry and documents with respect to merchant mariners, medical standards and guidelines for the physical qualifications of operators of commercial vessels, medical examiner education and medical research.

Applications should reach the Coast Guard by September 12 and be submitted via email to pamela.j.moore@uscg.mil with “Application for NMEDMAC” in the subject line.

For the two current vacancies, the Coast Guard said it will consider applicants who are a health care professional with particular expertise, knowledge and experience regarding the medical examinations of merchant mariners or occupational medicine and represent health-care professionals and those who are a professional mariner with expertise, knowledge and experience in occupational requirements for mariners and represent professional mariners.

Great Lakes Pilotage

The Great Lakes Pilotage Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet September 7 in Sault Saint Marie, Mich., to discuss matters relating to Great Lakes pilotage, including a review of proposed regulations and policies.

Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 8 a.m. EDT at the Cisler Conference Center, Lake Superior State University, 650 W. Easterday Ave., Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783.

To ensure the committee can review comments before the meeting, they should be submitted by August 31 via www.regulations.gov with docket No.USCG-2023-0395.

For additional information such as accommodations for a disability and comments that cannot be submitted electronically, contact Francis Levesque at 571-308-4941 or Francis.R.Levesque@uscg.mil as soon as possible.

Common Carrier Regs

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) reminded common carriers they must verify Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) and Ocean Freight Forwarders (OFFs) are compliant with regulatory and statutory requirements before accepting or transporting cargo.

Those requirements cover licensing, registration, tariffs and financial responsibility, the FMC stated, adding that failure to meet the obligations could result in fines or other penalties.

The FMC said it maintains lists of NVOCCs and OFFs that are licensed (or registered in case of foreign-based unlicensed NVOCCs) and have maintained the necessary proof of financial responsibility.

A list of tariff location of each NVOCC also is maintained for this purpose, the FMC said.

IMO Greenhouse Gas Strategy

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a revised strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

That revised strategy includes an enhanced ambition to reach net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping close to 2050.

“The adoption of the 2023 IMO Greenhouse Gas Strategy is a monumental development for IMO and opens a new chapter toward maritime decarbonization,” IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said.

“At the same time, it is not the end goal. It is in many ways a starting point for the work that needs to intensify even more over the years and decades ahead of us.”

Coastal Engineering Research

The Board on Coastal Engineering Research (BCER) is scheduled to meet August 15-17 in Miami, Fla., to provide broad policy guidance and review and develop research plans and projects in consonance with the needs of the coastal engineering field and the objectives of the U.S. Army Chief of Engineers.

Open to the public, the meetings will be held at the Hilton Miami Dadeland Hotel, 9100 N. Kendall Dr., Miami, FL 33176. They are set to begin at 8 a.m. EST on all three days.

For additional information, contact Dr. Julie Dean Rosati at 202-761-1850 or Julie.D.Rosati@usace.army.mil.