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Hearing of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee - Opening Statement of Rep. Maloney, Hearing on "Review of Fiscal Year 2020 Budget for the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Programs."


Location: Washington, DC

Welcome to this morning's hearing to review the respective Fiscal Year 2020 budget requests of the United States Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration, and the Federal Maritime Commission.

At any given moment, more than 20 million shipping containers full of raw materials and finished products are transecting the ocean, neatly stacked on ships. They might cross the Atlantic, enter the bustling Port of New York/New Jersey, and make way up the Hudson River, past Manhattan, to my district.

The Hudson River, the 315-mile conduit of commerce that lies at the heart of my community, moves over 17 million tons of cargo, worth over $32 billion in state commerce, annually.

For hundreds of years this river facilitated trade and transit, by sloop, steamboat, and barge. Today, the Marine Transportation System, or "MTS," is an almost invisible network that facilitates roughly $45.4 trillion in U.S. commerce across oceans and thousands of miles of inland waterways.

Yet, the MTS and the regulatory agencies that oversee its function are perpetually under-resourced. This is surprising considering the importance of the MTS to the U.S. supply chain, and moreover, fundamentally disappointing: this budget again underscores how little this administration understands or appreciates the importance of the U.S. shipbuilding and maritime industries and the agencies that regulate and facilitate, commerce.

Our Coast Guard stretches itself daily to execute its 11 statutory missions, from vessel safety inspections to search and rescue, despite budget cuts. It does so through its exemplary leadership. I'm pleased to welcome the Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Karl Schultz, to his first budget hearing before this subcommittee.

Unfortunately, in my view, the FY 2020 Coast Guard budget goes so far as to walk back, and significantly reduce the funding appropriated by the Congress for the Coast Guard last year, and that simply makes no sense.

Coordinating and monitoring our maritime industries is the Maritime Administration, or "MARAD," the agency whose programs and authorities foster and promote the American maritime industry to meet the economic and national security needs of our Nation.

In another unfortunate stroke, MARAD's budget is short changed. Surprisingly, the administration makes no request for funding to carry forward progress made earlier this year when Congress appropriated almost $300 million to initiate a new Port Infrastructure Development Grant program.

The American Association of Port Authorities estimates that there is a $32 billion need to improve intermodal landside connections, hinterland connectivity, and facility infrastructure. Yet, the administration has turned its back on supporting these investments to improve the efficiency and global competitiveness of U.S. ports and marine terminals. We need to recognize the importance of the MTS to the national economy and be proactive in our federal investments.

The Federal Maritime Commission, or "FMC," protects shippers and carriers from restrictive or unfair shipping practices of foreign-flagged carrier alliances operating in the U.S. foreign trade. And now with foreign carriers moving more than 95 percent of U.S. trade, the FMC's job has never been more important

That is why we need to make sure the FMC has more than sufficient resources to implement changes made in last year's Coast Guard Act to the Shipping Act, and make sure that U.S. port service providers at the Port of New York/New Jersey downriver from my district are able to compete and sustain good paying jobs for U.S. workers.

Our coasts are busier than ever. New uses emerge every day. It is the responsibility of these agencies testifying today to ensure that our maritime transportation system remains reliable, sustainable, efficient, and safe. I look forward to engaging our witnesses this morning to learn if the administration's budget request comes close to meeting that challenge.

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