U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D, MD-07), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, today joined U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry (R, LA-03), Vice Chairman of the Coast Guard Subcommittee, in applauding their colleagues in the House of Representatives who approved the Cummings-Landry amendment to the Coast Guard reauthorization bill that passed the House.
The amendment will increase government transparency surrounding the issuance of waivers allowing non-Jones Act-qualified vessels to carry cargo between U.S. ports. It is nearly identical to the American Mariners Job Protection Act (H.R. 3202), a bill with bipartisan support that was introduced by Reps. Cummings and Landry earlier this year.
"Americans are desperate for jobs," said Cummings. "In this time of economic turmoil, we owe it to the people we represent to make full use of American maritime capabilities by adhering firmly to the Jones Act. Every single ship that can carry cargo under the Jones Act should be full and every American mariner should be able to work a fair day's work for a fair paycheck. Congressman Landry has stood resolutely beside me as we protect the jobs of American mariners and I thank him for his support."
Under current law, when the head of the agency responsible for the administration of the Jones Act believes it necessary to waive the Act's requirements in the interest of national defense, the agency must request the Maritime Administration to assess whether Jones Act-qualified vessels are available to carry the cargo under consideration.
"I came to Congress to increase government transparency and get America back to work; today we took another step in that direction," said Landry, whose district has the most domestic maritime industry jobs in the nation and transports much of the nation's energy-based resources. Excited by today's passage, Landry continued: "American mariners are the most qualified and safest workers in the world, and I am grateful my colleagues voted today to put them back to work. I thank Congressman Cummings for his leadership on this issue and thank him for working to ensure that the American mariner is always the first option."
The Cummings-Landry amendment will require the Maritime Administration to include in such assessments information on the actions that could be taken to enable Jones Act-qualified vessels to carry the cargo for which the Jones Act waiver is sought. The Maritime Administration would also be required to publish its determinations on its website. Further, the amendment would require notification to be provided to Congress when a waiver is requested or issued.