When we last wrote about the 115th Congress, it had just completed work on the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019 and Save Our Seas legislation. These bills were summarized in our Mainbrace (October 2018) article, Congress Passes Major Maritime Safety Legislation but Fails to Fund a New Icebreaker or Pass Authorization for Most Coast Guard Programs. Of notable significance since our last article, the 2019 spending deal finally provided funding for a new polar icebreaker, which is discussed in detail further below. Continue reading “The Maritime Outlook for the 116th Congress”
President Trump, from his campaign through his time in office, has been a vocal supporter of U.S. manufacturing jobs and a critic of what he characterizes as unfair trade practices from traditional U.S. trading partners. This is one reason he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and currently is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”). As we are putting this issue of Mainbrace to bed, the administration has announced the successful completion of a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, which is now called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”). At a later date we will provide insights into the “new” NAFTA and its potential impact on the maritime industry. Keep in mind that Congress will ultimately have to approve the USMCA before it goes into effect.
Although there are hints of some negotiations between the United States and China, we expect this is the last trade deal that President Trump will negotiate because of his increasing rhetoric and tougher stance on the imposition of billions of dollars of new tariffs that go into effect on January 1, 2019. This also explains his imposition of tariffs on thousands of products imported from China, and steel and aluminum tariffs for most countries, including the European Union, as well as his threats to impose tariffs on automobile imports. In this article, we analyze the potential impact of these tariffs on the broader maritime industry. Continue reading “Impact of New U.S. Import Tariffs on the Maritime Industry”
This article provides an update on the status of several maritime-related bills pending with the 115th Congress as of October 3, 2018, and reviews one major marine safety law that passed Congress and is awaiting presidential signature.
America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018
The latest version of “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” (S. 3021), previously referred to as WRDA, is a product of compromise. The issues that were stalling the legislation for most of the summer have been resolved, resulting in a now far broader version that includes improvements to America’s water resources infrastructure; a streamlined project acquisition process for the Army Corps of Engineers that allows them to accept funds from nonfederal sponsors to advance studies and project elements; an extension of a new Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) water loan program for two more years; an EPA study requirement on small water utilities that are repeatedly out of compliance; a Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) study on whether to move the Army Corps out of the Department of Defense and into a civilian agency; and enhancements to oversight and transparency when reviewing water resources development activities by Congress. For a full summary and section-by-section review of the bill, please visit the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s webpage on America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. Continue reading “Congress Passes Major Maritime Safety Legislation but Fails to Fund a New Icebreaker or Pass Authorization”
Mainbrace | March 2018 (No.1)
In September 2017, in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued a series of widely publicized waivers allowing carriage of cargo by non-coastwise qualified vessels in the Gulf region and to and from Puerto Rico. Public interest in the Jones Act spiked in mid-September, and some members of Congress introduced legislation for longer-term relief, particularly for Puerto Rico. Although controversial, the waivers for the most part seemed to achieve their intended goal, allowing for additional capacity to be available to move certain critical cargoes, particularly in the energy and other bulk sectors. As discussed in more detail below, the way the waivers were granted was relatively unique in the context of hurricanes, and some controversy arose with regard to the Puerto Rico waiver. The waivers, however, expired as planned with no significant fanfare or controversy, and broader political and public interest in the Jones Act subsided after a flurry of activity. Continue reading “After Flurry of Hurricane Waivers, Calls for Coastwise Changes Recede”
Mainbrace | March 2018 (No.1)
We have completed one year with the Trump administration, so it is therefore a good time to assess whether he has made any drastic changes in his administration’s approach to the maritime industry. In short, there have not been any major changes. But as with almost everything involving the federal government, minor changes can have great effects.
The First Year
AROUND THE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
The president has put in place his appointees to key maritime positions: Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who has a significant maritime background as the former Deputy MARAD Administrator; Rear Admiral (“RADM”) Mark Buzby, the new MARAD Administrator and former Commander of the U.S. Military Sealift Command; Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who oversees oil and gas development as well as offshore wind on the Outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”); and Secretary of Homeland Security (“DHS”) Kirstjen Nielsen, who oversees the Coast Guard (among other agencies). Additionally, Chief of Staff John Kelly is intimately familiar with the Coast Guard from his time undertaking joint operations with the agency while he was in the military. Unlike previous administrations, at least there are political and experienced appointees in place to set maritime policy. We will discuss below what new policies they have put in place. Continue reading “Trump and the Maritime Industry: A Look Back and Forward”
Mainbrace | October 2017 (No.4)
As we are putting this issue of Mainbrace to bed, our thoughts are with the residents of Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida who are still recovering from the rarest of U.S. tragedies—three major hurricanes to directly hit U.S. land within a month. These disasters brought unique opportunities for neighbors to help one another and for bipartisanship in Congress, including a new deal with President Trump. Continue reading “Recent Hurricanes Wreak Havoc, Produce Bipartisan Congressional Support and Trump Jones Act Waivers”
Mainbrace | October 2017 (No.4)
In the lead up to the general election, then-candidate Donald Trump often repeated campaign promises to massively cut federal regulations that he viewed as stifling to business growth and killing jobs. True to his word, in his first 200 days of office, President Trump has generally delivered on his promise to stymie new federal regulations, including those impacting the maritime industry. Continue reading “Regulatory Stalemate in the Trump Era”