Ranking Member Cantwell Praises Inclusion of Commerce Priorities in Final NDAA Bill

December 17, 2019

WASHINGTON D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, highlighted multiple Commerce priorities included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020.  

Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act

“The United States maritime transportation system is critical to our nation’s economy and to our security,” Ranking Member Cantwell said. “In the state of Washington, we have nearly 70,000 direct jobs. So whether it’s ports connecting to freight corridors, warehouse workers, or ship building, we know the value of our domestic maritime industry.”

The legislation contains provisions authored by Cantwell to authorize $500 million for the Port and Intermodal Improvement Program, a competitive grant program that funds projects to improve the safety, efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods through a port or the intermodal connection to a port. It also includes a $40 million authorization – a 14% increase – for the Small Shipyard Grant Program, which provided a $1.3 million grant to a shipyard in Freeland, WA, in 2018.

Other programs supported by Cantwell are also included in the final NDAA text, including a report on infrastructure and upkeep needs for 17 strategic ports around the country, including Tacoma; reauthorization of the Maritime Security Program; and codification of a program to build the maritime workforce by helping retiring or transitioning servicemembers obtain mariner credentials. These provisions were originally included in the Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act introduced by Cantwell and Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) earlier this year.

Securing American Science and Technology Act of 2019

“One of the things that we constantly face is an ever-changing landscape and tactics being used against our research institutions,” Ranking Member Cantwell said. “So we just have to up our game here and so I appreciate working with my colleagues to address this important issue.”

The Securing American Science and Technology Act directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to designate an interagency working group to coordinate activities to protect federally funded research and development from foreign interference, cyberattacks, theft, or espionage while maintaining the open and inclusive nature of the U.S. research enterprise. Various nations have long sought to capitalize on American research and technology, but over the past several years, concern has grown as other nations, particularly China, have developed programs to expropriate research. 

Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act

The Manufacturing USA program was authorized in 2014 under the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act to improve the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. The NDAA bill reauthorizes the Department of Commerce managed program that funds regional manufacturing consortia to advanced research in particular manufacturing technologies. Manufacturing USA is a network of 14 manufacturing institutes. Each institute is a public-private partnership, jointly funded by government (Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Energy, and Department of Defense) and private industry, focused on a different advanced manufacturing technology (e.g. clean energy, lightweight materials).  The Department of Commerce coordinates the “network” aspect of the institutes. Under the original authorization, DOC was prohibited from funding a manufacturing institute for more than seven years.  This bill would eliminate the seven year funding moratorium and replace it with a performance review that ensures high-performing institutes continue their work.  It also authorizes supplemental activities, including workforce development.  Finally, the bill directs the Secretary of Commerce to create additional institutes if appropriations are made available.