Peters Bipartisan Maritime Commerce Bill Advances in the Senate

Bipartisan Bill Includes Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway Competitiveness Study

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee today approved a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) to reauthorize the Maritime Administration (MARAD), the federal agency responsible for promoting and maintaining a strong U.S. commercial maritime industry. The legislation also includes a provision requiring a competitiveness study to make recommendations for improvements for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system—one of the most heavily traveled waterways in the United States. More than 160 million metric tons of cargo move through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system every year.

Sen. Peters and Sen. Fischer serve as Ranking Member and Chair of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security.

“The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system support a multibillion dollar commercial shipping industry that moves millions of tons of cargo in and out of Michigan every year,” said Senator Peters. “Maritime commerce is a critical part of our economy, and this bipartisan legislation recognizes the Great Lakes’ central role in America’s transportation network. I’m pleased the Commerce Committee advanced this important bill that will identify additional economic opportunities and support Michigan’s critical maritime industry.”

The Maritime Administration is responsible for America’s mariner workforce, domestic shipping industry, shipbuilding and repair services, efficient ports, and effective maritime transportation systems. The agency also oversees the federal and state maritime academies that train future mariners, including the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, MI and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in King’s Point, NY. Senators Peters and Fischer also serve on USMMA’s Congressional Board of Visitors. 

The bipartisan legislation ensures the continued maintenance of the nation’s commercial shipping infrastructure by authorizing funding for MARAD operations and programs, the federal and state maritime academies, the maritime security program and the ready reserve fleet.

Additionally, the bill would:

  • Make improvements to the response to sexual assault and sexual harassment at the USMMA and establishes improved procedures to address the investigation and prosecution of sexual harassment, stalking and dating violence at the academy;
  • Increase training opportunities for USMMA cadets by requiring ships carrying U.S. cargoes to train cadets on their vessels; and
  • Request a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on National Maritime Strategy to ensure domestic maritime transportation can support U.S. economic and defense needs.