MAY 21, 2013 — Rep. Duncan Hunter (R.-CA), Chairman of the House Subcomittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, gave a hint today that the panel will expect the Department of Transportation to pay more attention to the maritime sector after the departure of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Maritime Administrator David Matsuda.
In his opening remarks to a hearing today on "Maritime Transportation: The Role of U.S Ships and Mariners," Chairman Hunter sharply criticized a budget proposal to restructure the Food for Peace program, saying the changes would "eliminate a vital program for our farmers, put U.S. mariners out of work, and undermine our national security by cutting the domestic sealift capacity on which our military depends."
"I hope my colleagues will join me in rejecting this misguided proposal," said Chairman Hunter.
He then turned his attention to the first witness at the hearing, Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, and thanked him for coming.
"As he is keenly aware," said Chairman Hunter, "the Maritime Administration has faced very valid criticism in recent years over its handling of Jones Act waivers and enforcement of our cargo preference laws. I hope the new leadership that will be taking over at both the Department and MARAD in the coming months takes seriously their mission to promote and protect the U.S. maritime industry.
"I hope to see a renewed commitment to programs like Title XI that help to grow jobs, expand our economy, and maintain critical shipyard industrial capacity. I also hope the new leadership at MARAD and DOT will work closely with industry to reduce Jones Act waivers. Finally, I hope they will stand up when other federal agencies seek to flaunt our cargo preference laws and use the authority Congress gave them to stop them in their tracks.
"If we want to grow our economy and remain a world power capable of defending ourselves and our allies, we must work together to strengthen and preserve our maritime industry. I thank the witnesses for appearing today and look forward to working with them to accomplish this important goal."