A longtime backer of the U.S. maritime industry recently received prestigious recognition from a major coalition.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) on Dec. 12 accepted the “Champion of Maritime” award from the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) during a brief ceremony in the nation’s capital. AMP’s member organizations, including the SIU, represent all facets of the domestic maritime industry.
In announcing the award, AMP cited Scalise’s “extraordinary support and dedication to the American maritime industry.”
“Each year, AMP presents the Champion of Maritime Award to a Member of Congress who has demonstrated exceptional support for the hard-working men and women of the American maritime industry,” the coalition said in a news release. “Rep. Scalise is a longstanding champion of the Jones Act and recognizes not only the critical contribution that the American maritime industry makes to Louisiana by providing thousands of family-wage jobs in the state, but also the critical importance of this industry to the nation’s economic, national, and homeland security interests.”
Scalise stated, “I’m honored to receive the Champion of Maritime Award. The maritime industry is vital to Louisiana’s economy, creating more than 50,000 jobs for hardworking Louisiana families, and contributing more than $11 billion annually into our state’s economy. Additionally, America’s maritime industry is not only responsible for creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs across our country, it is also a critical component of America’s homeland security strategy. I have long been a strong advocate for the hard-working men and women in America’s maritime industry who work tirelessly to protect our waterways, and I’ll continue to fight every day to defend and uphold the Jones Act, which is vital to the national and economic security of our country.”
“Congressman Scalise continues to be a tremendous champion for the domestic American maritime industry and truly understands our industry’s critical role to the vitality and security of our nation,” said Thomas Allegretti, who served as chairman of AMP through 2017. “Through his steadfast support for our domestic maritime industry that sustains nearly 500,000 jobs from coast to coast, it is our honor to award Congressman Scalise with our highest recognition – the Champion of Maritime Award – for his diligent dedication to our American maritime companies and American mariners.”
Citing just one recent example of the congressman’s backing of the nation’s freight cabotage law, the coalition pointed out that earlier in 2017, “Rep. Scalise demonstrated his unwavering commitment when he defended the importance of the lawful interpretation of the Jones Act while U.S. Customs and Border Protection reviewed a flawed letter ruling.”
In an op-ed from 2014 that he co-authored with U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California), Scalise described robust domestic shipbuilding as well as the numerous, vital contributions made by the maritime industry to U.S. security. That piece continued, “This growth would not be possible without the Merchant Marine Act passed by Congress in 1920, commonly referred to as the Jones Act, which requires that vessels moving cargo between U.S. ports be owned by American companies, crewed by American mariners and built in American shipyards. The resulting benefits cannot be understated: More than 40,000 American-owned vessels built in American shipyards and crewed by American mariners move agricultural goods, petroleum, coal, natural gas, chemicals and other essential commodities safely and efficiently along our rivers and coastlines. The domestic maritime industry supports nearly 500,000 jobs and almost $100 billion in economic output.”
The op-ed went on to point out, “The security importance of this law is equally, if not more important than the economic benefits. For decades, U.S. military leaders have supported the Jones Act because of its national and homeland security benefits…. The domestic maritime industry also protects America’s security interests within our own borders. Our connected system of waterways links the heart of our nation to our coasts. Without the Jones Act, vessels and crews from foreign nations could move freely on U.S. waters, creating a more porous border, increasing possible security threats and introducing vessels and mariners who do not adhere to U.S. standards into the bloodstream of our nation…. The Jones Act should be hailed as a commercial and a public policy success. It is the critical factor that ensures a vibrant domestic maritime sector, which in turn helps propel the American economy and protect vital U.S. national and homeland security interests.”