Senate Passes Maritime Administration Reauthorization

September 27, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Maritime Administration Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 was passed by the Senate today as Title XXXV of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3001). The bill was passed by unanimous consent.

“I am pleased that the Senate passed the Maritime Administration’s reauthorization for 2009,” said Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii). “This bill will improve the functioning of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, provide additional assistance to small shipyards, and provide the guidance needed to continue the successful performance of the Maritime Administration.”

In addition to authorizing FY 2009 funds for the Maritime Administration (MARAD), the bill provides the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) the authority to hire adjunct professors and would require the USMMA to prescribe a policy on sexual harassment and sexual violence similar to the policies at other Department of Defense (DOD) military academies. The bill also streamlines the small shipyards assistance program and clarifies cargo preference rules. Highlights of the bill include:

  • United States Merchant Marine Academy. In an effort to improve the budget submission process and financial accountability of USMMA, the Congress authorizes the Maritime Administrator to transition certain core employees critical to the operations of the Academy from non-appropriated fund instrumentalities to the federal government system and authorizes the hiring of adjunct professors for temporary employment contracts.
  • Assistance for Small Shipyards and Maritime Communities. The bill makes technical modifications to the existing Small Shipyard Assistance program to improve the grant making process and to expand the eligibility of small shipyards that may qualify for assistance under the program.
  • Cargo Preference. The bill clarifies that cargo preference applies to any person or organization receiving federal funding, unless they are otherwise exempted.  This clarification eliminates confusion over the application of cargo preference and will provide the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) with the appropriate enforcement authority for administrative oversight of cargo preference laws under subsection 55305(d) of title 46, United States Code. 
  • Under title 46, the bill authorizes the MARAD to increase the annual payments to cadets of state maritime academies for the Student Incentive Payment program, as well as adjust the timing of the award and the terms for which the payments may be used and to extend the duration of the marine war risk insurance program.