The maritime industry fared well in the recently approved federal spending bill.
Congress in early March passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022. The $1.5 trillion omnibus package includes full funding for the new U.S. Tanker Security Program (TSP), the U.S. Maritime Security Program (MSP), and for two U.S.- flag cable ships.
Originally approved near the end of the year 2020, the TSP calls for an initial fleet of 10 U.S.- flag tankers. The program, strongly backed by U.S. military leaders, will decrease reliance on foreign-flag ships and foreign crews.
The MSP, enacted in 1996 and extended several times since then, provides stipends for a fleet of 60 civilian-crewed, militarily useful vessels available to the Defense Department as needed.
The spending bill, which was signed into law March 15 by President Biden, moved along at what one pundit called “the congressional version of warp speed.” It passed in the House less than 24 hours after introduction and then cleared the Senate a day later, on March 11.
However, passage also followed months of delay and three continuing resolutions that allowed the government to operate. A shutdown would have occurred March 11 at midnight without either another continuing resolution or passage of the bill.
The bill reportedly contains $730 billion in non-Defense spending and $782 billion in Defense spending. It further includes a separate $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine. It provides government funding through September 2022.