On the first day of the first month of 2021, the U.S. Senate handed
President Trump his first veto override by passing the National
Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by an 81-13 margin.
The action was necessitated when Trump vetoed the measure on December
23 after the $740.5 billion package had been passed with veto-proof
majorities in both the House and Senate.
The measure authorizes appropriations for Fiscal Year 2021 for
military activities within the Defense Department, for military
construction, and for defense activities for the Energy Department
among other things.
The House of Representatives overrode the veto on December 28 with a
322-87 vote. A veto override requires support from two-thirds of the
members of each chamber of Congress.
With regard to maritime, the NDAA reinforced Jones Act regulations
when waivers are being sought. It also incorporated legislation to
include the nation’s cabotage law to offshore wind farms.
The bill strengthened cargo preference laws regarding military cargo
and established a study of federal compliance for current civilian and
military cargo preference rules.
It included creation of a 10-ship Tanker Security Fleet, modeled after
the highly successful Maritime Security Program (MSP), to provide a
stipend to shipowners who make their militarily useful tankers
available in times of war or national emergency.
The legislation also called for a gradual increase in the annual
payment to MSP participants and offered a temporary increase in the
current MSP funding because of unexpected covid expenses. (MSP
appropriations must be approved annually by Congress.)
The NDAA aided domestic shipyards by strengthening existing
requirements that vessels under charter to the United States be
repaired or modified in an American facility while under charter.
The measure established a new Maritime Transportation System Emergency
Relief program which will offer financial help to help the industry –
including shipowners, operators, shipyards, maritime training
facilities and other others – during times of emergencies.
The fiscal year runs through September 30.