U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chair of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee, will hold a hearing titled “The State of the U.S. Maritime Industry: The Federal Role” on Tuesday, March 8, at 2:30 p.m.
The hearing will examine U.S. maritime policy and conduct oversight over the U.S. Maritime Administration, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and the Federal Maritime Commission. Leaders from the U.S. Maritime Administration and the Federal Maritime Commission will testify. Witnesses have been asked to discuss the state of the nation’s maritime transportation system, current challenges, and ways that federal policy and programs can enhance its performance.
• The Honorable Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, Administrator, U.S. Maritime Administration
• The Honorable Mario Cordero, Chairman, Federal Maritime Commission
• Rear Admiral James Helis, United States Maritime Service Superintendent, United States Merchant Marine Academy
• Mr. Mitch Behm, Assistant Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation
* Witness list subject to change
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee hearing
This hearing will take place in Senate Russell Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.
For reporters interested in reserving a seat, please contact the press gallery:
• Periodical Press Gallery – 202-224-0265
• Radio/Television Gallery – 202-224-6421
• Press Photographers Gallery – 202-224-6548
• Daily Press Gallery – 202-224-0241
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Senator Deb Fischer
"Good Afternoon. I am pleased to convene the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation & Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security for today’s hearing entitled, “The State of the U.S. Maritime Industry: The Federal Role.” This is the first in a series of hearings examining the maritime industry in preparation for legislation to reauthorize the Maritime Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"The United States has a rich maritime heritage. In fact, shipbuilding is one of the oldest industries in the United States, dating back to our nation’s early colonial times. From the beginning, U.S. waterways were used for exploration, commerce, transportation, defense, and recreation.
"Today, shipping is even more crucial to the global supply chain.
"As a global leader, the U.S. needs an efficient and reliable intermodal freight transportation network to grow our economy and create new jobs. Ports and the U.S. maritime shipping fleet are critical to keeping America competitive in the global market, especially as freight flows continue to increase. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), freight tonnage on our nation’s transportation network will grow by 40 percent over the next 30 years.
"Meanwhile, deep-water sea ports represent a key element of the U.S. transportation network and are vital to our economic growth. In fact, America’s sea ports often serve as the key connection point for all modes of transportation.
"Today, we will hear from witnesses representing the federal government stakeholders with jurisdiction over maritime shipping and ports infrastructure. This includes the Maritime Administration, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Merchant Marine Academy, and the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of Transportation.
"Around this time last year, I convened a hearing on the situation at the West Coast ports. These ports alone move 12.5 percent of U.S. GDP per year and channel goods throughout the entire country. Congress must continue to prioritize our nation’s ports to avoid massive congestion and gridlock like we saw last year.
"One step towards ensuring our ports remain a top priority at both the Department of Transportation and here in Congress is to strengthen the data received at the national level. Chairman Thune and I worked to include critical port performance legislation to aid us in retrieving critical data on ports metrics in the highway bill that passed last year. Nationally-consistent data on our nation’s ports will inform policymakers to help ensure our nation’s ports do not fall behind.
"I’m pleased to see Admiral Helis here, who graciously welcomed me to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy last fall. I was pleased to visit and tour the Academy.
"During my tour, I also had the opportunity to visit the Nebraskan midshipmen I nominated to the Academy. Admiral Helis, it’s clear you’re shaping excellent future leaders for the Maritime industry at King’s Point and we are thank you for your service.
"Moving forward, I hope to work with you and the Academy to ensure we strengthen efforts to address on-campus sexual assault through the upcoming Maritime Reauthorization bill. The Academy’s recent 2015 anonymous survey of midshipmen found that as many as 28 women and 24 men had been sexually assaulted on campus. However, the Academy noted there was only one officially-reported case of sexual assault.
"As you know, we need to strengthen the support network available for midshipmen so they are confident in the reporting system.
"We also need to encourage more on-campus and industry preventive training, and the completion of the Academy’s sexual assault action plan.
"After meeting with the on-campus coordinator during my visit to King’s Point, I am confident that we can move in the right direction and I look forward to working with you to address this critical issue.
"With regard to the Maritime Administration, I appreciate the important role this agency plays in national security. MARAD manages the Department of Defense Ready Reserve Force, which serves to transport combat support, resupply, and unit equipment to the Army and Marine Corps.
"In addition, MARAD maintains a National Defense Reserve Fleet of cargo ships to support military shipping operations during times of war and national emergency.
"This was evident, during the Korean War, where nearly 540 reserve fleet vessels were activated to support military forces.
"I have serious concerns, however, regarding mismanagement at the agency as identified by the most recent IG report on the Maritime Administration. The IG report noted that weaknesses remain in MARAD’s hiring practices and program implementation.
"This report shows that adequate risk management for MARAD programs are needed, along with updated policies, hiring practices, and stronger oversight.
"Administrator, I hope we can work together to address these management challenges.
"I would now like to invite Senator Booker to offer opening remarks."
The Honorable Paul "Chip" JaenichenAdministratorU.S. Maritime Administration
The Honorable Mario CorderoChairmanFederal Maritime Commission
Rear Admiral James HelisUnited States Maritime Service SuperintendentUnited States Merchant Marine Academy
Mr. Mitch BehmAssistant Inspector GeneralU.S. Department of Transportation