Following the Biden-Harris Administration Presidential Budget submission to Congress on March 28, 2022, the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) recently released its Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal. MARAD requests $906.7 million to fund essential investments in the American maritime transportation system, our national sealift capability, port infrastructure, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA).
The President’s Budget request, which when added to the advance appropriations contained in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, would provide MARAD almost $1.4 billion in funding, representing the Department of Transportation’s historic investments that will lay a stronger foundation for shared growth and prosperity for generations to come.
“President Biden’s budget request for the Maritime Administration would continue to strengthen resiliency in the maritime transportation system that is essential to support our economic growth, our supply chain, and our national security,” said Acting Administrator Lucinda Lessley. “MARAD’s budget request would fund essential sealift capacity, advance our effort to replace aging sealift vessels, and expand our efforts to address climate change. It would also continue critical investments to address long-standing challenges at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.”
The budget requests $318 million for the Maritime Security Program (MSP) to maintain a viable commercial fleet of 60 vessels that can support a U.S. presence in foreign commerce and meet the Nation’s needs for sustained military sealift capacity. MSP provides the United States the ability to move critical military equipment and supplies by sea during times of conflict, national emergencies, or other contingency situations. This funding also provides assured access to a multi-modal global network of critical capabilities and resources.
The budget requests $230 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) to fund grants to improve port infrastructure and facilities and to stimulate economic growth in and around ports, while also improving safety, addressing climate change and equity, and strengthening our supply chain. In addition to the request, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $450 million in advance appropriations for this program in FY 2023. Together, this funding would provide an approximately $680 million investment.
The budget also requests $99.7 million to continue priority investments to strengthen the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), which educates the next generation of diverse seagoing officers and maritime leaders of exemplary character, including over 80% of all U.S. Navy Strategic Sealift Officers that can be deployed rapidly to transport and sustain U.S. forces worldwide.
This funding would provide $87.8 million for academic operating expenses to support an estimated 1,010 midshipmen, an increase of $2.8 million from the FY 2022 enacted level. The additional increase in funding would support continued efforts and implementation of measures to help prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus and at sea, and to provide support for survivors. The request also seeks $11.9 million—an increase of $6.4 million from the previous year—to fund facility maintenance and repair needs at the USMMA.
The budget also requests $92.3 million for MARAD’s operational needs, including agency infrastructure and staff. This request would include $10.8 million for the America’s Marine Highway (AMHP) grants program, which makes grants to support expanded use of near-coastal and inland waterways, as well as $10 million for the Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance (META) program (an increase of $4 million for the FY 2022 enacted level), which supports technology advancement and energy efficiency in the maritime industry.
The budget requests $77.7 million for State Maritime Academies (SMA) Operations. This request includes funding for vessel management, logistics, and maintenance oversight to prepare the schools to receive and operate the National Security Multi-Mission Vessels (NSMV). The budget request would address unanticipated steel cost increases for the NSMVs, support pier improvements necessary for heavy weather mooring of the first NSMV, support school ship maintenance and repairs costs, and provide direct support to the SMAs.
The budget also addresses the urgent and critical national security requirements for U.S.-flag product tankers to support deployed Armed Forces in contingency operations by requesting $60 million for the Tanker Security Program. This program was just recently funded for the first time by Congress in the FY 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act, and will provide assured access to militarily useful, commercially viable product tankers engaged in international trade.
Additional funding requested includes $20 million for Assistance to Small Shipyards grant program, $6 million for the Ship Disposal Program, and $3 million for the Maritime Guaranteed Loan (TITLE XI) Program.
The DOT’s FY 2023 budget proposal now goes to Congress for consideration. Under the typical schedule, the budget must be approved and signed into law by the President by Oct. 1, 2022, when the new fiscal year begins. For additional information, the full DOT budget report can be found here.