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Gibbs Statement from Hearing on Cargo Preference: Compliance with and Enforcement of Maritime’s Buy American Laws

Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Ranking Member Bob Gibbs (R-OH) from today’s hearing entitled, “Cargo Preference: Compliance with and Enforcement of Maritime’s Buy American Laws”:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The United States uses several Federal assistance programs to hedge against its inability to compete in the international ship operating market against vessels which operate under flags of convenience which use low paid, third world crews. 

These programs include: requiring internal domestic shipments be shipped on U.S.-flagged, -crewed, -manned, and -built vessels; loan guarantees for ship construction; the Maritime Security Program which subsidizes the operation of certain militarily useful cargo vessels; and the cargo reservation programs we are looking at today.

Today we are going to look at the implementation of U.S. cargo reservation, or cargo preference, programs.  And especially at the failure to write, much less implement, the cargo preference enforcement regulations Congress mandated in 2009. 

All Department of Defense generated cargoes, and 50% of other Federal agency generated cargoes must be carried on U.S-flag vessels with U.S. crews.  In conjunction with the Maritime Security Program, this provides the U.S. with an international commercial fleet of 84 vessels.  These vessels and the U.S. mariners that crew them provide the crucial capacity to meet future U.S. national defense sealift needs.  

Unfortunately, the agencies which generate cargo shipments take a short-sighted view and have tangled up MARAD efforts to write cargo preference enforcement regulations in the interagency regulatory review process.  In essence killing those regs before they are even implemented. 

I look forward to hearing witness testimony today, and especially how they believe the regulatory hurdles that have prevented MARAD from writing and implementing cargo preference enforcement regulations can be overcome. 

Thank you, Chair Carbajal.  I look forward to the testimony and yield back.

Click here for more information, including live video and witness testimony.

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