Early this month, U.S. Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia, D-Texas, filed H.R. 7456, along with Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, Rep. Anthony G. Brown, D-Md., Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, and Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss. 

The bill would create a grant program for community and technical colleges offering exceptional training programs for maritime industry professions. The bill would also authorize $200 million nationwide to fund the grant program.

“Maritime industry jobs are a critical part of our nation’s economy. Yet research has shown that there may soon be a shortage of maritime industry workers,” said Rep. Garcia. “Therefore, it is essential that Congress act to support community and technical colleges providing training for the next generation of workers in this industry to avoid a future workforce shortage.”

“The Maritime Center of Excellence at San Jacinto College is a state-of-the-art facility and program. I am truly proud to represent such an establishment in Southeast Texas and sponsor legislation that will help provide opportunities to our nation’s maritime workforce while strengthening America’s trade and national security in the process,” said Rep. Babin.

“Maritime workers help power our economy, particularly the local economies of states like Maryland. Training and fostering the next generation of the maritime workforce is critical to keeping this country moving in the 21st century,” said Rep. Brown. “By tapping into the resources at community and technical colleges we can ensure this career path remains an attractive and affordable opportunity for young people.”

"Countless Alaskans make their living on the ocean, and we should be doing all that we can to support our mariners by providing them with the job training programs needed to support the maritime workforce," said Rep. Young. "Our community colleges have long been an excellent resource for career training and development, and they can play an important role in equipping future mariners with the skills they need to be successful. I am proud to introduce this legislation to enable our community colleges to meet the demand for sailors, fishermen, and others whose livelihoods depend on our waters. I will continue working to ensure that the federal government is supporting those interested pursuing in careers at sea."

“South Mississippi is a maritime community and we will continue this long-held tradition by providing continuous maritime training in South Mississippi. Our legislation will support the training of students at our community colleges who will enter into the workforce better equipped to meet our nation’s maritime needs,” said Rep. Palazzo.

Garcia added that “the bipartisanship and geographic diversity exhibited by the bill’s original cosponsors show the importance of this issue in Congress. We will continue to work together on this shared priority.”

Click here for the bill text.