Committee Approves Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act

May 15, 2019

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today approved the Maritime Administration (MARAD) Authorization and Enhancement Act, authorizing appropriations for MARAD for Fiscal Year 2020, as well as four additional bills.

Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., provided the following statements on the committee approval of the MARAD Authorization and Enhancement Act:

“The Maritime Administration is critical to a strong economy in the United States,” said Wicker. “This bill would reauthorize MARAD while strengthening programs vital to its mission. I appreciate Senator Cantwell’s help on this important issue. The language in this bill includes amendments offered by committee Republicans and Democrats and is an important step in maintaining the continued viability of the maritime industry and our nation’s security.”

“With seventy percent of purchasing power outside the U.S., it is imperative that we improve our port efficiency,” said Cantwell. “U.S. products need to reach global markets without delay. Doubling the port grant authorization program and giving new tools to small ports will help the US be more competitive.”

 Highlights of the Maritime Administration Authorization for fiscal year 2020:

  • Includes a 10-year reauthorization of the Maritime Security Program, a cadre of U.S.-flagged commercial oceangoing ships critical for national defense sealift operations. 
  • Codifies the Administration’s Military to Mariner Executive Order into law, streamlining the process for transitioning active-duty and retired members of the uniformed services into high-paying merchant marine jobs. 
  • Includes the Port Operations, Research, and Technology (PORT) Act, authorizing grants for port and intermodal infrastructure projects. 
  • Includes the Maritime SAFE Act to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing through better interagency coordination and tougher enforcement of lawbreakers. 
  • Authorizes increased funding for the Small Shipyard Grant program. Also includes full funding for the Title XI maritime guaranteed loan program to support the maritime industrial base.   
  • Authorizes a program to support infrastructure development at Department of Defense-designated Strategic Ports.
  • Enacts a number of reforms to support the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. 

Bills considered and approved by voice vote during today’s executive session:


  1. S. 737, Building Blocks of STEM Act, Sponsors: Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.)
  2. S. 1228, Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act or PIRATE Act, Sponsors: Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.)
  3. S. 1289, A bill to require the Secretary of Commerce to conduct an assessment and analysis of the effects of broadband deployment and adoption on the economy of the United States, and for other purposes or Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act, Sponsors: Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)
  4. S. 1294, Broadband Interagency Coordination Act, Sponsors: Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
  5. S. 1439, Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act for Fiscal Year 2020, Sponsors: Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
    a. Blumenthal 1 (modified)
    b. Cruz 1
    c. Cruz 2
    d. Lee 3 (modified)
    e. Lee 5 (modified)
    f. Lee 6 (modified)
    g. Lee 7
    h. Markey 2 (modified)
    i. Markey 3 (modified)
    j. Markey 4 ( modified)
    k. Markey 6 (modified)
    l. Thune 1