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Maritime asks Washington for $3.5 billion and vaccine priority

By Nick Blenkey


American maritime and supply chain trade associations and organizations last week sent letters to Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and Congressional leaders asking for help in coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


One letter, signed by a notably broad industry coalition asks for $3.5 billion in aid to the industry. A separate letter, sent to Senate committee leaders by a smaller group, asks that industry workers be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations.


$3.5 billion aid plea


Virtually identical letters sent to Mnuchin and House and Senate majority and minority leaders on December 9 by no fewer than 23 organizations notes that the COVID-19 crisis has seen total waterborne trade volume down 6.3% compared to last year, while the value of this trade has crashed by 13.9% totaling $200 billion. “Passenger movements remain virtually ceased,” says the letter, adding that “expenses have greatly increased due to COVID-19 protocols and precautions that we have implemented nationwide.”


“To date, no dedicated funding has been provided in any of the COVID-19 legislation to assist the maritime transportation system, despite emergency relief being provided to other modes of transportation,” the letter says.


“As you consider additional actions to respond to the ongoing pandemic, we urge you to provide $3.5 billion for the maritime transportation sector,” says the letter. “Should the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2021 be enacted in advance of further COVID-19 relief, Congress could direct these funds through the Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Program which would authorize the Maritime Administration to provide grants to help defray business-critical expenses that we have incurred due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”


The organizations signing off on that letter are: American Association of Port Authorities, American Great Lakes Ports, Association American Waterways Operators, California Association of Port Authorities, Dredging Contractors of America, Gulf Ports Association, Florida Ports Council, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, International Longshoremen’s Association, International Propeller Club of the United States, Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, National Association of Waterfront Employers. Navy League of the United States, Oregon Public Ports Association (OPPA), Pacific Northwest Waterways Association. Passenger Vessel Association, Ports Association of Louisiana. Transportation Trades Department AFL-CIO, USA Maritime, Waterways Council Inc., Washington Public Ports Association. and World Trade Center of New Orleans.


Vaccination priority


A somewhat narrower coalition that includes railroad and trucking interests sent a letter, also dated December 9, to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation and Subcommittee on Transportation & Safety.


That letter asks for “timely access to the COVID-19 vaccine to minimize the potential for supply chain disruptions, delays in vaccine distribution, and further adverse economic impacts, locally, regionally, and nationally.”


The letter notes that “earlier this month, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met concerning the phased allocation of COVID-19 vaccines. The Advisory Committee recognized the importance of essential critical infrastructure workers, such as employees, contractors, and suppliers in our industries, and proposed that they be included in a “Phase 1b” vaccine sequence—after medical and healthcare personnel and workers and residents in long-term care facilities identified for “Phase 1a.”


The letter asks for support for this projected allocation of COVID-19 vaccines.


The organizations signing off are: American Association of Port Authorities, American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association, Association of American Railroads, American Trucking Associations, American Waterways Operators, Inland Rivers Ports & Terminals, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, National Association of Waterfront Employers, National Maritime Safety Association, National Tank Truck Carriers, Truckload Carriers Association.


This article originally appeared on Marine Log.

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