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Maritime Industry Prepares For Busy Legislative Stretch

With a presidential election looming and a crowded congressional calendar on the horizon, July is shaping up to be one of the busiest months in recent history for the American maritime industry. The sprint to the August congressional recess will see major maritime measures actively in play over the next five weeks:

  • First in the queue is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the must-pass annual reauthorization effort includes the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) authorization bill and funds most key commercial maritime government programs. The Senate is expected to resume floor consideration of the NDAA when the chamber returns from July 4 recess. The House Armed Services Committee completed its full committee markup on July 1, and floor action is expected the third week of July.

  • A Senate version of the FY21 MARAD authorization bill was introduced by Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker on June 10. The bill includes funding for MARAD and many other commercial maritime programs. No timeline has been set for Senate Commerce Committee consideration, but it will serve as the basis for a Senate floor amendment to the Senate NDAA.

  • The House Appropriations Committee plans to begin markups the week of July 6, with floor votes as early as the week of July 20. The 12 annual spending bills include FY21 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD), which funds MARAD and other maritime governmental programs; FY21 Homeland Security, which funds the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection; and FY21 Energy & Water Development, which funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Senate Appropriations Committee markup schedule is less certain, but committee and subcommittee action is also possible in July.

  • The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and Senate Commerce Committees continue their efforts to finalize a Coast Guard authorization bill for FY21, legislation that includes Coast Guard funding, as well as dozens of provisions of interest to the American maritime industry.

  • The House recently secured final passage of the Moving Forward Act, a more than $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that funds everything from roads, bridges, highways, transit, clean energy, to water infrastructure. The bill is not expected to be taken up in the Senate; however, there are possible opportunities to conference items in a pared down Senate bill.

  • Activity in July is also likely on efforts to reauthorize water resources projects. The Senate’s bill, America’s Water Infrastructure Act, may see floor action later in July, while the House is expected to release its committee draft in the coming weeks.

  • Finally, there has been speculation that Congress will turn its attention to another COVID-19-related stimulus bill in the last two weeks of July. With an anticipated price tag in the trillions, the legislation could touch all sectors of the American economy.

After a hectic sprint to the August recess, the House is scheduled to adjourn for recess on July 31, while the Senate will depart on August 7. Both chambers are then expected to return on September 8, before adjourning in early October for the run-up to the November 3 presidential election. Maritime stakeholders looking for opportunities for engagement in the legislative process should note that the next few weeks could present their best opportunity.

Copyright 2021 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 188

About this Author

Darrell Conner, KL Gates Law Firm, Public Policy Attorney
Government Affairs Counselor

Mr. Conner is a government affairs counselor in the Public Policy and Law practice group at K&L Gates, one of the largest policy groups in the United States.  He has nearly 25 years of experience working with Congress and the executive branch, experience that he leverages to provide advice to clients on effectively managing their government and regulatory affairs, in particular helping clients by create alignment between their objectives and government policies.

Mark Ruge, Federal Regulations Attorney, KL Gates Law Firm

Mark Ruge is a lawyer in the Public Policy and Law practice group at the global law firm K&L Gates, one of the largest policy groups in the United States. He focuses his practice on the federal government, representing clients on policy matters before Congress, administrative issues before the federal agencies/departments, and, occasionally, regulatory disputes in the federal courts. He is involved in a broad range of maritime issues and issues related to the Great Lakes states. 

A veteran of more than a decade as a staffer on Capitol Hill, Mr. Ruge serves as counsel to the...

James Sartucci, KL Gates Law Firm, Public Policy Attorney
Government Affairs Counselor

Mr. Sartucci, a government affairs counselor in K&L Gates’ Washington, DC office, has over 13 years of practical experience on Capitol Hill working inside the legislative process on issues including  maritime, Coast Guard, homeland security, transportation, oceans, fisheries and science programs and policy.

Prior to joining K&L Gates, Mr. Sartucci spent nine years working for Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) where he served as Legislative Director.  He has considerable experience in the areas of tax, land and water infrastructure,...

Elle Stuart Transportation Lawyer KL Gates

 Elle Stuart is an associate in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, where she is a member of the public policy and law practice group. Elle focuses her practice on a wide range of federal regulatory, policy, and legislative matters dealing with transportation issues, with an emphasis on the maritime and postal sectors.

Prior to joining K&L Gates, Ms. Stuart was an extern in the Environmental Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice. She was a summer associate at K&L Gates in 2016.

Doug Hall Public Policy & Law K&L Gates Washington DC
Government Affairs Analyst

Colonel Doug Hall, United States Air Force (retired), has 27 years of experience in the military, aerospace, and defense industry with a focus on structuring legislative strategy and impacting Congressional affairs, with a particular focus on defense logistics and transportation. Immediately prior to joining the firm, Mr. Hall served as the director of Congressional & Interagency Affairs, United States Transportation Command, where he represented the Command on government-owned and commercial defense transportation matters. In this role, he interfaced with the U.S. Congress, the...