December 12, 2019
Tim Runyan – National Maritime Alliance
The House of Representatives last evening approved (377-48) the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report authorizing national defense funding for fiscal year 2020. Included is a provision that authorizes the Secretary of Defense to provide up to $5 million for the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program. The NDAA will be voted on by the Senate soon and is expected to pass. The House and Senate agreed on the bill earlier in their conference report.
This is a huge victory for the maritime heritage community. I thank those who have responded to my appeals to contact their Senators and Representatives to urge their support. Our grass roots effort over the past year was a key in achieving success. We also thank the Navy League for supporting the provision.
Our champion in this effort is Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) from Buffalo who proposed the legislation, and his staff led by Legislative Director Kayla Williams. NY Senators Schumer and Gillibrand also supported the provision, as did members across the country from both houses and parties. The final NDAA was changed substantially during the conference, but the section providing the $5M grant funding remained because of the support of members encouraged by our letters and contacts.
This is the first direct federal funding for the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program. Funding has come through the profits of recycling ships by the Maritime Administration. That source is projected to provide ca $2.5 million for 2020. It provided $10 million over four years, then no funding this past year. The $2.5 million from the Maritime Administration will be in addition to the $5 million provided through the NDAA. The grant program will continue to be administered by the National Park Service. Updates will follow.
Timothy J. Runyan, PhD , Chair, National Maritime Alliance