Senator Maria Cantwell receives 2023 Salute to Congress Award

Senator Maria Cantwell receives 2023 Salute to Congress Award

Growing the U.S. domestic maritime industry and protecting the Jones Act will continue to be the goal of Congress moving forward, said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wa.) during her acceptance speech at the Salute to Congress dinner hosted by the International Propeller Club in Washington D.C. on June 13.

Cantwell, a staunch supporter of the maritime industry, is Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which establishes much of the federal funding for maritime interest, including improvements to ports and other infrastructure and shipyard projects.

She said one of her top priorities is increasing the mariner workforce to support national defense by using federal programs such as the Jones Act and newly-enacted Tanker Security Program.

“We have challenges and opportunities. We need to continue to build that workforce and diversify it so we have a strong U.S. maritime community,” said Cantwell, who was elected in 2001.


Improving shipyards and making it easier for commercial interests to build vessels in America will be key in bolstering the maritime workforce as well as creating shipyard jobs, Cantwell said. During her time in Congress, Cantwell has championed the use of national shipyards for construction and repair work on military vessels.

These same facilities should also be targeted to support the commercial industry, which would reinvigorate the domestic commercial fleet, she said.

“I want us to have shipyards for our defense needs and I want us to double down on building shipyards for our commercial maritime needs,” Cantwell said. “The United States needs to grow this capacity.”

Cantwell also thanked the U.S. merchant marine for continuing to deliver across the nation during the global pandemic while other industries were forced to shelter in place. While the nation’s citizen might not have known the impact of mariners on the economy before COVID-19, the unsung heroes of the pandemic were squarely in the spotlight and served the nation selflessly like true patriots, she said.

“In the face of a pandemic, no one knew exactly what would happen but we now know this – everyone in America now understands supply chains,” Cantwell said. “I want to just give a great debt of thanks … for the sacrifices they made to keep our economy going. It was true patriotism.”