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Biden Signs Omnibus Spending Bill, Funding Maritime Concerns

Meeting with President Biden earlier this month are (from left) MM&P Pres Don Marcus, Biden, SIU Exec VP Augie Tellez, and MEBA Sec-Treas Roland Rexha.

The US-flag maritime industry will benefit for years to come following passage of the Fiscal Year 2022 federal budget.

On March 15, President Biden signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022. This bipartisan legislation, which details $1.5 trillion in projected government spending across approximately 2,700 pages, has multiple ramifications for the maritime industry.

The Maritime Administration (MarAd) will receive $1.3 billion, an increase of $81 million compared to the 2021 Appropriations Act. Of this, $318 million will go to funding the existing Maritime Security Program (MSP). Another $234 million will be directed to MarAd’s Port Infrastructure Development Program to improve supply chain resilience and port capacity, as well as finance new construction projects.

The omnibus spending bill also empowers MarAd to create a new Tanker Security Program (TSP), which will complement the existing MSP with a fleet of 10 US-flagged and US-crewed tanker vessels to be available as necessary to the Department of Defense. The TSP would reduce military reliance on foreign flag vessels during times of conflict or crisis. The spending bill dedicates $60 million to the creation of this program, and authorizes MarAd to immediately solicit applications from companies wishing to enroll.

In addition, the bill also provides $10 million to fund a two vessel US-flag cable security fleet.

Further, the legislation provides a combined $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. The AFL-CIO earlier this month released a statement condemning the attempted Russian invasion of that country, and several MTD affiliates have put out separate statements commending the Biden administration’s actions in support of the Ukrainian people.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the spending bill on March 10th, followed by the Senate on the following day.

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