Graves & Gibbs on Today’s Maritime Transportation Briefing
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Members Sam Graves (R-MO) and Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Ranking Member Bob Gibbs (R-OH) discussed highlights from a Subcommittee briefing on how the U.S. maritime industry is responding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby (Ret.), Administrator of the Maritime Administration (MARAD), participated in today’s briefing with Committee Members. The Administrator, who also formerly served as Commander of the Military Sealift Command, highlighted the negative impacts of slowdowns of military and commercial cargoes on the U.S.-flag vessels on which the Department of Defense depends for surge and sustained military sealift. Such impacts have a negative effect on U.S. defense readiness.
He also provided details on how workers on ships and at docks are being protected from COVID-19, changes in the movement of cargo and disruptions in regularly scheduled service, impacts on national security operations, operational or other obstacles the maritime industry has encountered thus far, and future impediments to the U.S. maritime industry caused by the pandemic. He also discussed ongoing industry changes not directly caused by the pandemic, like those related to the current glut of oil making its way through the maritime transportation system.
“Since shipping issues are often out of sight, out of mind, it was helpful to hear the Maritime Administrator give us an update on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. maritime transportation,” said Gibbs. “The reductions in cargo due to the pandemic’s impacts on mariners, longshore workers, vessel operators, and marine terminal operators are of great concern to the Committee. As Congress looks at any potential future COVID-19 related legislation, we will have to closely consider the needs of the maritime industry. I hope we can soon return to some semblance of regular order to most effectively tackle these and the many difficult issues now before Congress. Many Americans have been deemed essential workers and are doing their jobs every day. Congress absolutely has essential work to do as well, and we need to ensure that it is getting done.”
“The maritime transportation sector, like every other sector of our vital transportation network, is being dramatically impacted by the pandemic, and I appreciate the Administrator taking the time to help inform our Members today about how the industry and the agency are responding,” said Graves. “We are all doing our best to monitor the issues impacting our transportation and infrastructure systems critical to the continued movement of goods, supplies, commerce, and people during these unprecedented times. However, there simply is no substitute for public hearings with Members and witnesses in attendance to discuss, debate, and conduct oversight. Representatives and our Committees owe it to the American people, including the countless transportation workers who have heroically remained on the job, to get back to work. We know they are depending on us to set the policies that are going to help the Nation and our economy recover from the pandemic, and we should return to Washington safely and as soon as possible to do that.”