Cantwell Secures Important Wins for Washington’s Maritime Economy in Defense Authorization Bill

Legislation includes increase in Cantwell port grants program, 14 percent increase in grants for small shipyards, support for Military to Mariner program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced that key wins for Washington state’s maritime economy have been included in the final text of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) released last night. The bill is expected to be voted on in both houses of Congress in the coming weeks.

“The United States maritime transportation system is critical to our nation’s economy and to our security,” Senator Cantwell said. “In the state of Washington, we have nearly 70,000 direct jobs. So whether it’s ports connecting to freight corridors, warehouse workers, or ship building, we know the value of our domestic maritime industry.”

The legislation contains provisions authored by Cantwell to authorize $500 million for the Port and Intermodal Improvement Program, a competitive grant program that funds projects to improve the safety, efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods through a port or the intermodal connection to a port. It also includes a $40 million authorization – a 14% increase – for the Small Shipyard Grant Program, which provided a $1.3 million grant to a shipyard in Freeland, WA, in 2018.

Other programs supported by Cantwell are also included in the final NDAA text, including a report on infrastructure and upkeep needs for 17 strategic ports around the country, including Tacoma; reauthorization of the Maritime Security Program; and codification of a program to build the maritime workforce by helping retiring or transitioning servicemembers obtain mariner credentials. These provisions were originally included in the Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act introduced by Cantwell and Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) earlier this year.