Garamendi Earns ‘Salute to Congress’ Award

 

June 2015

 

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One of the American maritime industry’s most outspoken advocates claimed the prestigious Salute to Congress award April 23 in Arlington, Virginia.

 

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-California) accepted the recognition before a large gathering that included SIU President Michael Sacco, Executive Vice President Augie Tellez, Vice President Contracts George Tricker, Maritime Trades Department Executive Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Duncan plus hundreds of representatives from other segments of the industry. The Propeller Club of the United States has presented the award annually since 1985 in recognition of congressional representatives who support the maritime industry.

 

“I am deeply honored, pleased and delighted with the honor, but even more so with the opportunity to support, enhance and drive forward the American maritime industry,” Garamendi said in his acceptance speech. “That’s my goal. Pretty simple, pretty straightforward, and I know we can do it.”

 

He said that although the U.S. Merchant Marine has “a great history,” he preferred to “look forward, and I want to look forward to the future of this industry being a whole lot better than it has been in the last 20-30 years. And we can do it.”

 

Next, Garamendi said that any exports of crude oil or liquefied natural gas should be reserved for vessels that are built, flagged and crewed American.

 

Turning his attention to domestic shipping, the congressman stated, “We need to pay attention to those who say the Jones Act is archaic. No, the Jones Act is absolutely essential for this nation’s mariners, for the shipbuilding industry and for all that are involved on the ocean. It is critical in every way.”

 

Later, he spoke about the importance of the Food for Peace program, through which American-gown grain and food products are shipped aboard U.S.-flag vessels to the hungry people across the globe. The program sustains jobs for America’s farmers and merchant mariners alike, and provides relief to those in need.

 

Garamendi said Food for Peace is close to the hearts of him and his wife, Patricia: As Peace Corps volunteers, the Garamendis saw firsthand what food aid deliveries can mean for starving people in Ethiopia and other impoverished nations.

 

“You bring cash into chaos, and you cannot guarantee that it will be turned into food,” he said, referencing recent attempts by the Office of Management and Budget to eliminate Food for Peace in favor of straight cash donations to the affected countries and local nongovernmental organizations. “You can’t do it; it doesn’t necessarily work. It doesn’t work in our own supermarkets, when you have what is known as a food stamp. You expect it to work in those kinds of situations? It’s foolish.”

 

He concluded his speech with a call to action for the maritime executives in the audience. “Somewhere, all around this nation, are the people who can pull together to make this (industry revitalization) happen,” he said. “And we need to do it this year. We’re not going to allow the opportunity to slip by. This is the session of Congress where, if we are successful, we must do it. The LNG industry’s moving forward. If we miss that wave, if we’re not on it, to get on it is going to be difficult. The entire oil industry is desperate to ship crude oil. That’s our opportunity.”

 

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