Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have recently introduced the Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Act (MTSERA) to provide financial relief to the maritime industry for losses due to COVID-19 or other natural disasters or emergencies, which are defined as any natural disaster such as a hurricane or flood, as well as any catastrophic failure from an external cause that impacts the U.S. maritime industry. The bill specifically states that the COVID-19 pandemic shall be treated as an emergency for purposes of funding under this Act.
The legislation was proposed because of the marine industry’s role in keeping the global supply chain moving. MTSERA will allow the maritime industry to access FEMA funding and other assistance programs that are available to other industries. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) will be involved in administering funding, which will include grants to state entities such as port authorities, state-owned or operated vessels and facilities associated with the operation of a vessel, and public or private entities. Public/private entities must be U.S. companies and have significant U.S. operations and employees based here. Additionally, they must be engaged in vessel construction, transportation by water, or support activities for transportation by water with an assigned NAICS code beginning with 3366, 483, or 4883, or any activity determined by the Secretary of Transportation, which implies that even if an activity does not fall under any of the stipulated activities, a public/private entity may appeal to the Transportation Secretary for consideration.