Administration's 2014 Budget Proposal Would Gut Maritime

End to food aid shipments means lost jobs and income.

By Denise Krepp 2013-04-11 10:40:00

The President's FY 2014 budget proposal should be opposed by everyone in the U.S. maritime industry. U.S. mariners will lose their jobs, and their tax dollars will be spent buying food aid in foreign countries. Maritime matters. We must work together to convince the Administration and Congress to support the U.S. maritime industry, not gut it.

“America needs a strong and vibrant U.S.-flag Merchant Marine.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and wish that I was the first person who said it. I'm not. This very statement was included in a letter to Michael Sacco, President of the Seafarers’ International Union, by then-Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama on August 28, 2008. Now, less than five years later, his Administration is doing everything it can to destroy the U.S. maritime industry.

The White House claims its budget “creates jobs by responsibly paying for investments in education, manufacturing, clean energy, infrastructure, and small business.” The Administration's definition of creating jobs does not include mariners and others in the U.S. maritime industry. The budget it is proposing allows the U.S. Agency for International Development, under the guise of “reform(ing) food aid for more cost-effective use of taxpayer resources,” to write a check instead of employing U.S. mariners to ship food aid overseas.

The Administration tries to cover over the destruction of the maritime industry by providing funding for incentives to facilitate the retention of mariners. It also provides funding for worker adjustment. Mariners don't need incentives. They need jobs. Like every American, they have families, mortgages, and bills to pay. U.S. mariners and those associated with the maritime industry will lose their jobs when the U.S. government starts writing checks for foreign-grown grain.

This sudden change of policy completely contradicts the support of previous Administrations and Congresses.  In the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, Congress found that the “Merchant Marine continues to serve the United States, promoting freedom, and meeting the high ideals of its former members.” President Bush agreed with this statement and signed the Act into law.

Make Your Voice Heard

Now is the time for all of us to join together and oppose the Obama Administration's radical changes that will significantly damage the U.S. maritime industry. Many voices will be needed to ensure that this budget as written is not signed into law. Call your Representative and Senator and tell them that you oppose the Administration's budget proposal because of the maritime cuts. Constituent concerns influence how members of Congress vote. Make sure your voice is heard in this debate. – MarEx

K. Denise Rucker Krepp is a homeland security, transportation, and energy expert who began her career as an active duty Coast Guard officer in 1998. After September 11th, Ms. Krepp was part of the team that created the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Ms. Krepp joined the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee in 2005 and drafted the maritime and surface transportation sections of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. She also wrote Detour Ahead: Critical Vulnerabilities on America’s Rail and Mass Transit Security Programs (http://hsc-democrats.house.gov/SiteDocuments/20060801153711-86476.pdf). Ms. Krepp served as Chief Counsel at the U.S. Maritime Administration and Special Counsel to the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Transportation during the first Obama administration. She is currently a private consultant and professor at The George Washington University and Pennsylvania State University. Ms. Krepp is also on the Board of Directors for The Infrastructure Security Partnership.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.