Dear Member of Congress:
On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), and the many maritime workers that we represent. I urge you to sign the bipartisan Dear Colleague letter being circulated by Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT), Robert Wittman (R-VA), and Trent Kelly (R-MS) requesting the fully authorized level of $318,000,000 for the Maritime Security Program (MSP) in the FY 2024 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development appropriations bill.
The Maritime Security Program is an essential component of our military sealift capability because it guarantees that trained U.S. citizen mariners will be available in times of crisis or disaster. The program provides a stipend to commercial shipping companies to enable them to continue sailing U.S.-flag vessels, at a fraction of the cost it would take the federal government to replicate similar maritime shipping capacity. The dual public health and global security crises caused by COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine are a meaningful reminder that the United States should be in control of our commercial goods, energy production, and cargo transportation needs.
This capacity is indispensable to both our security and humanitarian efforts, but it is also a key element in promoting good middle-class jobs in the maritime sector. In a world without a U.S. fleet, jobs currently performed by U.S. mariners would be outsourced to countries without labor and safety protections, where mariners work under poor conditions for little pay. MSP helps to ensure that the U.S. mariner pool remains robust, and that our nation will be able to preserve the existence of a domestic maritime industry and the substantial economic benefits it imparts.
For these reasons, we urge you to sign the Courtney-Wittman-Kelly FY’24 MSP appropriations letter, which requests full funding of the program to provide the necessary support for our military sealift capacity and the U.S. commercial maritime sector.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request.