From the AFL-CIO’s Maritime Trades Department:
COVID-OMNIBUS MEASURE SIGNED, MARITIME PROVISIONS FUNDED THROUGH SEPTEMBER
Following a week of confusion about whether the President would sign legislation overwhelmingly passed by Congress to provide COVID-19 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 the U.S.-flag maritime industry.
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.