Summary: H.R.6899 — 96th Congress (1979-1980)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part IV (07/21/1980)

(Reported to House from the Committee on Ways and Means with amendment, H. Rept. 96-935 (Part IV))

Omnibus Maritime Regulatory Reform, Revitalization, and Reorganization Act of 1980 - =Title I: Findings and Purposes= - Declares that the purposes of this Act are to: (1) promote the foreign commerce of the United States; (2) develop and maintain an efficient and competitive ocean transportation system capable of carrying a substantial portion of America's imports and exports; (3) develop and maintain an efficient and competitive domestic ship building and ship repair mobilization base; (4) provide for the national security; (5) ensure a unified and consistent national maritime policy; and (6) ensure that United States-flag vessels are fairly and reciprocally treated in international trade.

=Title II: Regulation of International Ocean Shipping= - Exempts from the antitrust laws certain loyalty contracts between or among ocean common carriers, certain activities of shippers' councils, specified agreements regarding transportation between foreign countries that do not involve import or export of goods into or out of the United States, and agreements to be performed entirely within a foreign country.

Authorizes ocean common carriers, conferences, or others subject to this title to: (1) discuss, fix, and agree upon rates, surcharges, and accommodations; (2) pool or apportion earnings, losses, or traffic; (3) allot ports or otherwise regulate the number and character of sailings between ports; (4) regulate the volume or character of cargo or passenger traffic to be carried; (5) engage in various working arrangements; and (6) enter into agreements to regulate competition among themselves.

Sets forth requirements pertaining to loyalty contracts utilized by ocean carriers or conferences of carriers with shippers or consignees.

Authorizes shippers' councils to negotiate with any ocean common carrier or conference regarding rates, practices, and terms and conditions of service and to exchange information with such carriers or conferences concerning traffic and transportation data. Provides that nothing in this title shall restrict the powers of an association organized under the Export Trade Act of 1918.

Requires that agreements made among ocean carriers or conferences or with shippers' councils be filed with the Federal Maritime Commission which, in turn, shall publish such notice of such filing in the Federal Register.

Sets forth rules governing the activities of ocean carrier conferences, including: (1) reasonable notice to the appropriate shippers' councils of any proposed rate changes; (2) a right of independent action for any member of a conference agreement or for any conference serving different trades that would otherwise be naturally competitive; (3) an independent neutral body to monitor compliance; (4) a consultation process between shippers' councils and conferences to exchange information and resolve disputes; (5) conditions for admission and readmission to conference membership; (6) the opportunity to withdraw from membership without penalty; and (7) a description, in any agreement filed under this Act, of the proposed changes in allotting ports or regulating sailings between ports.

Prohibits the Commission from approving any agreement entered into by shippers concerning the establishment or operation of a shippers' council unless the council agreement contains specified requirements, including: (1) a provision for a consultation process to allow for communication between shippers and conferences, commercial resolution of disputes, and cooperation in curbing malpractice; (2) a provision that allows shippers to resign or rejoin the council without restriction; and (3) a prohibition on agreements or concerted action by council members with regard to their prices, output, or marketing.

Sets forth criteria for Commission approval of such shippers' council agreements. Specifies procedures for filing such agreements.

Directs the Commission to approve or disapprove an agreement application not later than 30 days after the expiration of the comment period established by the Commission, unless a hearing is required, in which case such approval or disapproval must be made not later than 180 days after the date of the filing of the application. Directs the Commission to promulgate regulations governing the conduct of all hearings required under this Act.

Directs the Commission to conditionally approve any application submitted for the approval of any agreement concerning any activity which the Commission finds to be necessary for the implementation of a treaty or an executive agreement between the United States and any other sovereign nation.

Sets forth requirements relating to the filing and public accessibility of ocean carrier or conference tariffs.

Directs that increases in existing rates may not become effective earlier than 30 days after filing with the Commission unless the Commission allows otherwise. States that a rate change which decreases a shippers' cost may become effective upon such filing.

Authorizes the Commission to permit an ocean carrier or conference to refund a portion of the freight charges collected from a shipper to correct an error in the rate charged.

Prohibits any ocean common carrier that is controlled by a government under whose registry such carrier operates from maintaining rates below a level which is just and reasonable. Places the burden of proving that such tariff is just and reasonable on the controlled carrier involved.

Sets forth factors which the Commission may consider in determining whether the rates of such a controlled carrier are just and reasonable, including whether: (1) the rates are below a level which is fully compensatory to the controlled carrier; (2) the rates are the same as or similar to those charged by other carriers in the same trade; (3) the rates are required to assure movement of particular cargo in the trade; or (4) the rates are required to maintain acceptable service to or from affected ports.

Requires a controlled carrier, upon the request of the Commission, to file a statement of justification of its existing rates or proposed rates. Authorizes the Commission to suspend a controlled carrier's rate pending a determination of its lawfulness.

Requires the Commission to transmit to the President any order of suspension or final order of disapproval of a controlled carrier's rates. Grants the President the authority to require the Commission to stay such order for national defense or foreign policy reasons.

Sets forth exemptions with respect to the controlled carrier regulations contained in this Act.

Prohibits any person from acting as an ocean freight forwarder or nonvessel operating common carrier unless the person has been issued a license by the Commission. Creates a procedure for such licensing.

Directs an ocean carrier to compensate an ocean freight forwarder in connection with any cargo shipment dispatched on behalf of others only when such forwarder has performed specified services. Sets forth guidelines under which such compensation is to be paid.

Prohibits specified acts by ocean common carriers or conferences including rebates, rate discrimination, and retaliation against shippers.

Sets forth the powers of the Commission and procedures to be followed with respect to adjudication proceedings under this title.

Sets forth civil penalties for violations of this title. Authorizes the Commission to modify or remit any such penalty.

Authorizes the Commission to exempt any specified activity or class of agreements between ocean carriers or other persons subject to this title from any requirement of this title.

Directs that orders of the Commission relating to violations of this title or to regulations issued hereunder shall be made only after opportunity for hearing. Sets forth guidelines concerning the reversal, suspension, and enforcement of such orders.

Repeals the Shipping Act of 1916.

=Title III: Amendments to the Merchant Marine Act, 1936= - Amends the Merchant Marine Act, 1936, to declare that the policy of the United States shall be to have an efficient and competitive merchant marine, owned and operated under the United States flag, capable of carrying its domestic commerce and a substantial portion of its foreign commerce and to have an efficient and competitive shipbuilding capacity that is sufficient to satisfy the needs of national security.

Directs the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to attempt to eliminate through negotiation the adverse effects of a foreign nation's reservation of all or a portion of the cargoes moving in its waterborne commerce for its national-flag carriers. Directs the Secretary of Commerce to conclude, if necessary, an intergovernmental maritime agreement with such a nation to protect the interests of United States-flag carriers.

Specifies required provisions in such an agreement.

Grants specified powers to the Secretary of Commerce, including authority to achieve the goal that United States-flag vessels carry 50 percent or more of the liner and bulk cargoes of the United States' foreign commerce. Requires the Secretary to submit to the Congress a five-year plan for achieving such goal.

Establishes within the Department of Commerce an Under Secretary for Maritime Policy (the Under Secretary).

Modifies the construction-differential subsidy and cost of national defense features incident to the construction or reconditioning of ships to include those costs essential to maintaining a shipyard mobilization base. Authorizes the appropriation of such sums as may be necessary to insure the existence of a competitive privately owned United States-flag fleet and the maintenance on a continuing basis of such mobilization base. Directs the Secretary of Commerce to investigate and keep current records of shipyards, related industrial production facilities, and skilled manpower available to same.

Revises the construction-differential subsidy program under such Act to make vessels which are to be used in international trade (previously only foreign trade) eligible for such subsidies. Prohibits the payment of such a subsidy unless the Secretary certifies that he has considered the standards established by the Secretary of the Navy.

Reduces such subsidy unless the vessel involved is part of an existing or future vessel series as determined by the Secretary of Commerce.

Directs the Secretary of the Navy to establish standards relating to the equipment and specifications for vessels so that they will be suitable for use by the United States for national defense or military purposes.

Allows an owner or charterer of a vessel: (1) built in a United States' shipyard; (2) documented under United States laws; and (3) operated in the foreign commerce of the United States, or a United States shipyard, to apply for a construction-differential subsidy to make such vessel at least 15 percent more energy efficient. Authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to enter into specified contracts for such reconditioning. Requires that materials used in such reconditioning be of United States origin. Redefines such a reconditioned vessel as a "new vessel" and reduces by ten years the age of such vessel for the purposes of this Act.

Repeals the termination date for the construction-differential subsidy program. Directs that the price of constructing a vessel in a foreign shipyard shall reflect the lower price to the vessel owner. Authorizes the Secretary to pay in excess of the approved construction-differential subsidy if ship construction necessary to sustain the shipyard mobilization base level will not be undertaken during the fiscal year.

Revises the duties of the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Defense as regards the shipbuilding and the ship repair capacity of the United States. Sets forth criteria for the assessment of such capacity.

Reduces the duration of documentation of a completed vessel. Grants the Secretary of Commerce an option to purchase such vessel for national defense purposes.

Allows a ship purchaser operating with an operating-differential subsidy to negotiate with regards to vessel specifications with foreign or domestic shipyards upon application to the Secretary. Specifies steps to be taken by the Secretary in granting such subsidy. Directs such purchaser to accept the lowest price proposal offered by a United States shipyard if such subsidy is granted. Allows such purchaser to contract with a foreign shipyard if: (1) such subsidy is not granted; (2) the Secretary has determined (and so reported to Congress) that the shipyard mobilization base will be otherwise sustained during the fiscal years in which the vessel or vessels will be under construction in the foreign shipyard.

Removes the competitive bidding requirement for the construction of vessels receiving such a subsidy at U.S. shipyards. Directs that not more than 50 percent of the cost of a ship's main propulsion machinery may be attributable to foreign manufacture. Authorizes the Secretary to waive foreign manufacture limitations as regards other specified components if the requirements of this title unreasonably delay the completion of any vessel beyond its contract delivery date.

Directs the purchaser of a vessel acquired from the reserve fleet for use in domestic commerce or fisheries of the United States to agree that all reconditioning or reconstruction of such vessel shall be performed in a United States shipyard.

Authorizes the Secretary to sell a vessel from the reserve fleet for commercial use to a U.S. citizen.

Directs the Secretary of Transportation to report his recommendations to Congress concerning the elimination of unnecessary requirements or procedures used by vessel classification societies.

Prohibits the Secretary of Commerce from approving, unless specified conditions are met, the application of a U.S. citizen for financial aid in the operation of certain vessels. Directs the Secretary, in considering applications for subsidies under this Act, to provide shipping services on a nondiscriminatory basis.

Sets forth eligibility requirements for operating-differential subsidies for vessels in specified trade or service. Specifies amounts to be paid by the Secretary for such subsidies or in lieu thereof. Disallows such subsidies for a vessel exclusively engaged in domestic trade. Directs the Secretary to develop, keep, and publish cargo forecasts for essential trade routes. Sets forth provisions for subsidizing additional United States-flag sailings. Permits an operator receiving such subsidy to make specified replacements, transfers, or exchanges under his contract.

Directs the recipient of an operating-differential subsidy ("the contractor") to conduct his operations in an economical and efficient manner. Allows a contractor to suspend such subsidy contract for not less than 12 months. Sets forth requirements under which such subsidy may be paid.

Prohibits certain subsidized contractors, charterers, affiliates thereof, and specified employees from owning or operating specified foreign-flag vessels which compete with a United States-flag vessel providing essential service.

Directs the Secretary to assure that any subsidized contractor who also owns or operates foreign-flag vessels uses subsidy funds only to support United States-flag vessels.

Directs the Secretary to establish trade routes, services, or lines which take into account the seasonal closure of the Saint Lawrence Seaway and provide for alternate routing of ships via a different range of ports during such closure so as to maintain continuity of service on a year-round basis.

Directs that at least 50 percent of materials procured by the United States which may be transported on ocean vessels shall be transported on certain United States-flag commercial vessels. Directs each department or agency to develop an affirmative plan of action to achieve the above objective. Sets forth requirements for such plans and for their approval by the Secretary.

Authorizes operators of United States-flag vessels to enter into agreements with the Secretary to repair their vessels under contract with a United States shipbuilding or repair company unless there is an emergency or casualty which requires temporary repairs before such vessel can return to the United States. Directs the Secretary to determine whether such repairs were performed pursuant to this title and to levy a duty on such operator if they were not.

Defines, for purposes of this Act, a citizen of the United States.

Prohibits, generally, the transfer of a vessel to any person not a citizen of the United States.

Directs the Secretary to investigate and examine the: (1) cost and operation of merchant vessels in the United States and foreign countries; (2) construction methods and rules under which vessels are constructed; (3) subject of marine insurance; and (4) navigation laws of the United States, and to make recommendations for their revision.

Authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to refuse clearance to a vessel under specified circumstances.

Prohibits specified activities during a war or national emergency without the approval of the Secretary of Commerce.

Orders that any vessel or related facility transferred in violation of this Act shall be forfeited to the United States. Declares that in any action to enforce such forfeiture, the criminal conviction of any person for a violation thereof with respect to the subject of the forfeiture shall constitute prima facie evidence of such violation against the person so convicted. Specifies penalties for violation of this Act.

Designates the Secretary of Commerce as a preferred creditor under a preferred ship mortgage as defined in the Ship Mortgage Act of 1920.

Repeals the termination date for the provision of war-risk insurance by the Secretary to United States vessels.

=Title IV: Miscellaneous= - Repeals a specified provision of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.

Amends the Intercoastal Shipping Act, 1933, to require that rates and charges for certain barging of containerized cargo between points in the United States be filed with the Federal Maritime Commission. Directs the Federal Maritime Commission to promulgate rules governing such barge operations.

Directs every common carrier by water in interstate commerce to observe reasonable rates, charges, and tariffs and reasonable regulations and practices in the transportation or storage of property. Directs such carriers to file with the Commission the maximum rates and charges for its services. Prohibits a carrier from collecting an amount in excess of such filed rates and charges except with the approval of the Commission. Empowers the Commission to set such rates if a carrier fails to do so.

Permits passengers to be transported on foreign vessels between ports in Puerto Rico and other points in the United States unless the Secretary determines that United States-flag service is available to provide such transportation.