Following a week of confusion about whether the President would sign
legislation overwhelmingly passed by Congress to provide covid aid and
cover federal government funding through Fiscal Year 2021, President
Trump placed his signature on the measure late December 27.
While most media coverage was justly concerned about helping citizens
and businesses damaged by the coronavirus epidemic, the omnibus
funding portion included major provisions of interest to U.S.-flag
The Maritime Security Program (MSP) received full funding at $5.3
million per vessel for the 60-ship fleet. The MSP became law in 1996.
It provides a stipend to U.S.-flag shipowners for access to militarily
useful vessels in times of war or national emergency. Funding must be
approved by Congress yearly.
The omnibus bill also covered nearly $2 billion for cargo preference
programs including PL-480, known as Food for Peace. Funding was
provided for the Cable Security Fleet.
The measure stipulated additional Jones Act protections with regard to
strategic petroleum reserve distribution. It called for Harbor
Maintenance Trust funds to be used to their fullest extent possible
through the Water Resources Development Act.