Convention Delegates Reaffirm Nation’s Vital Need for Cargo Preference (9/14)


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On September 12, delegates to the SIUNA convention approved the following resolution:


Cargo Preference


WHEREAS, it has been the policy of the United States Government for more than 100 years that a portion of the goods bought and paid for with taxpayer dollars should be transported on American ships with American crews; and


WHEREAS, during that time, our cargo preference laws have helped create good-paying jobs for American workers, provide tax revenues at the local, state, and federal levels, and made sure America’s merchant marine remained ready and available when needed for strategic sealift and other defense interests; and


WHEREAS, America’s cargo preference laws are critical to our national and economic security. In particular, they help maintain a ready and available pool of American seafarers who have crewed vessels on missions that have done everything from providing food to hungry people around the world through the PL-480 Food for Peace program, to bringing the bullets, blankets and butter to our troops in harm’s way, to helping boost economic growth by carrying cargoes financed by the Export-Import Bank; and


WHEREAS, America’s cargo preference laws have been praised by a bipartisan register of American leaders dating back many decades. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell recounted the important benefits that the laws have generated in diplomacy when the Food for Peace program celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2004. In 2008, then-Senator Obama noted in a letter to a number of SIUNA affiliates, “Whether it is carrying needed goods to those overseas in distress or moving government-generated cargo, people around the world look to the U.S. Flag as a symbol of hope and determination”; and


WHEREAS, despite their record, cargo preference laws today are under fierce attack from a variety of opponents who are out to slash the percentage of food aid cargoes U.S.-flag vessels can transport. One such attack that happened this summer was a true stealth maneuver – a backroom deal at the last minute that was part of the Surface Transportation bill. It blindsided practically everyone, from members of Congress to military leaders to maritime labor and our allies, and it significantly cut American-flag cargoes; and


WHEREAS, we immediately fought back and supported new, bipartisan legislation called the Saving Essential American Sailors Act. This bill was introduced in late July and remains our best and most immediate hope for reversing the ill-conceived cuts to American-flag carriage of food aid cargoes, preserving thousands of American jobs, and keeping the Stars and Stripes flying on the high seas; now, therefore let it be


RESOLVED, that the SIUNA and its affiliates will fight to protect cargo preference, and all associated components. This is a battle we’ve been through before – one that we’ve won before. It is a fight that we will win again; and let it be further


RESOLVED, that the SIUNA and its affiliates pledge to do everything possible to preserve the integrity of these vitally important laws, and to see that America’s critical maritime programs are adequately funded.




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