Senate Passes Maritime Authorization Bill, Confirms FMC Nominees

July 1, 2016

As its last items before leaving town last week, the U.S. Senate passed a Maritime Administration reauthorization bill and confirmed three Federal Maritime Commission nominees.

The Senate passed, by unanimous consent, an amended bill (S. 2829, the Senate-passed text of which is here) authorizing appropriations for the Maritime Administration (MARAD) for fiscal year 2017 and making various changes in maritime laws. The authorized funding levels are a bit of a late arrival since the Senate has already passed, and the House has reported from committee, the FY 2017 appropriations bills that are supposed to use the authorization levels as a guide.


Much of the rest of the bill concerns efforts to stop sexual harassment at the Merchant Marine Academy (title II of the bill) and at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in title VII-A of the bill. Subtitle B of title VII of the bill in fact contains a long list of personnel reforms at NOAA, which could delay the consideration of the bill in the House because NOAA is not under the jurisdiction of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which does have jurisdiction over MARAD.

Section 305 of the Senate bill increases the number of non-competitive appointments to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy held by the Secretary of Transportation from 40 per year to 50.

The Senate bill also crosses into Coast Guard procurement territory – title VI of the legislation orders the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit a detailed capacity plan for polar icebreaking and also orders a GAO study of the polar icebreaking fleet.

The Senate by unanimous consent also approved a package of nominations for three of the five Federal Maritime Commission seats. Current Commissioners Rebecca Dye and Michael Khouri were reappointed to new terms while former Congressman Dan Maffei (D-NY) was appointed to the remainder of Richard Lidinsky’s term.

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