Congressmen Cedric Richmond, D-La., and Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., announced Thursday the establishment of the Congressional Maritime Caucus designed to raise awareness among lawmakers about a broad range of maritime-related issues.
Congress already has a similar group, the PORTS (Ports Opportunity, Renewal, Trade and Security) Caucus, formed in the fall of 2011 by freshman Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., and Ted Poe, R-Texas, to promote the importance of ports and port security on Capitol Hill.
The news of a second caucus on maritime matters came as a surprise to officials at the PORTS Caucus and the American Association of Port Authorities. The AAPA recently named Hahn and Poe as its "Port Persons of the Year" for their work in trying to strengthen U.S. seaports, including investment in infrastructure.
Reps. Richmond and Grimm belong to the PORTS Caucus, which now has 75 members.
"While there is a ports caucus, the maritime caucus focuses on the entire maritime industry, beyond ports, including tug boat operators, ferry operators, laborers, and merchant marines - just to name a few," Carol Danko, Grimm's press secretary, said in an e-mail response to a reporter's question.
The Congressional Maritime Caucus' statement of purpose, included in a registration letter to a House administrative committee, says the group will be a "devoted ally to all components of the maritime industry."
In a news release, Richmond said, “From Alaska to Puerto Rico, Louisiana to New York, every day this industry facilitates trade and delivers energy resources that support millions of jobs and pays billions in state and federal taxes every year. I also look forward to highlighting the role other industries play in supporting maritime commerce, be it in the fields of law, engineering, shipbuilding or insurance.” - Eric Kulisch