A strong maritime industry, an efficient port and harbor system, and a vibrant domestic waterborne commerce sector are all critical to America’s economic and national security interests. Presidential candidates should embrace policies that support maritime transportation and the thousands of good jobs created in the seafaring, shipbuilding, and longshore sectors.
U.S. ports should be the envy of the world and are critical to our ability to compete and win in the global marketplace. The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund provides resources for the key dredging projects that deepen ports and harbors to accommodate increasingly large modern vessels. Yet, due to years of budget gimmickry, over $9 billion in the Fund sits idle, while project needs go unmet. Legislation to fully utilize the Fund would create tremendous opportunities for workers in these sectors, as well as substantial positive economic growth. On-dock improvements must also be a priority, as ports and harbors clamor for increased and improved intermodal connections to better link them to the broader transportation network and communities across the nation.
Longstanding federal policies that promote the U.S-flag fleet including the Jones Act, the Maritime Security Program, and cargo preference laws all deserve support and expansion from the next president of the United States. Taken together, these laws protect the U.S. maritime industry from unfair foreign competition. These laws also fulfill key national security needs, as these same mariners provide irreplaceable sealift capability to the military in times of war or humanitarian crisis. Candidates should also support policies that seek to grow the sector, such as the increased use of underutilized waterways for domestic shipping.
Any serious approach to our transportation network and infrastructure must include the maritime industry and its workforce.