On the first day of 2021, the U.S. Senate handed President Trump his first veto override by passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by an 81-13 margin.
The action was necessitated when Trump vetoed the measure on December 23 after the $740.5 billion package had been passed with veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate.
The measure authorizes appropriations for Fiscal Year 2021 for military activities within the Defense Department, for military construction, and for defense activities for the Energy Department, among other things.
The House of Representatives overrode the veto on December 28 with a 322-87 vote. A veto override requires support from two-thirds of the members of each chamber of Congress.
Regarding maritime, the NDAA reinforced Jones Act regulations when waivers are being sought. It also incorporated legislation to include the nation’s cabotage law to offshore wind farms.
The bill strengthened cargo preference laws regarding military cargo and established a study of federal compliance for current civilian and military cargo preference rules.
It included creation of a 10-ship Tanker Security Fleet, modeled after the highly successful Maritime Security Program (MSP), to provide a stipend to shipowners who make their militarily useful tankers available in times of war or national emergency.
The legislation also called for a gradual increase in the annual payment to MSP participants and offered a temporary increase in the current MSP funding because of unexpected COVID-related expenses. (MSP appropriations must be approved annually by Congress.)
The NDAA aided domestic shipyards by strengthening existing requirements that vessels under charter to the United States be repaired or modified in an American facility while under charter.
The measure established a new Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief program which will offer financial help to help the industry – including shipowners, operators, shipyards, maritime training facilities and other others – during times of emergencies.
The fiscal year runs through September 30.