Demonstrating both his sense of humor and his very serious commitment to the American maritime industry, Congressman Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) reaffirmed that support Feb. 27 during an address to the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Propeller Club of the United States.
A co-founder of the Congressional Maritime Caucus (with Congressman Cedric Richmond) (D-La.), Grimm joked about occasionally being too candid, but quickly added that the people in maritime “know where you stand with me. I’m proud to say, you have a friend in Congress that understands your industry and wants to learn more about it. I’m going to stand up for what’s right in your industry every single time – not once in a while, not only when it’s easy or when people are watching. When the doors are closed, know that I’m working behind the scenes on securing funding, on making sure that you’re treated fairly. And that we build awareness and educate members on one of the best industries that this country was founded on – an industry that our economy was started on. We need to recognize the gem that we have in maritime.”
A U.S. Marine veteran, Grimm said that when he first was elected to Congress three years ago, he immediately noticed “that the (maritime) industry had been neglected for years – decades, even. That’s what really gave rise to the Congressional Maritime Caucus: to be able to reestablish an emphasis that a dialogue is not haphazard; it’s not done once in a while…. This is about an education process. Members of Congress need to know (for example) what the Jones Act is, why we have it and how important it is from so many different perspectives – especially what’s near and dear to my heart, the national security of the greatest nation in the world. It’s often lost, and believe it or not we even have prior-service military members of Congress that really don’t understand the Jones Act’s magnitude.”
He said that in an era when seemingly every political campaign points to job creation as a cornerstone, maritime jobs – both at sea and on the docks and in related shore-side positions – can play a huge role in turning around the economy. He recalled recently meeting a 70-something Longshoreman whose son and grandson both followed his career path. Grimm stated that those jobs and others in the industry have more in common than water; they are “career jobs” that allow people to support their families.
“The answers to growing our economy and creating jobs are right in front of our nose,” Grimm declared, adding that investing in the maritime industry will greatly boost the cause. “Why can’t we go back to the way jobs were created when this country was formed?”
After taking questions from the audience (addressing flood insurance and potential cuts in the Defense Department), Grimm wrapped up his talk by reinforcing his backing of the U.S. Merchant Marine and other segments of maritime.
“I’m 100 percent for the industry,” he said. “I’m proud of it. I think those are real career jobs that we’re not taking advantage of, and we need to do so. I love the industry, and you’re regular, salt-of-the-earth people. You say what you mean; you mean what you say.”