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Waltz, Kelly Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Calling on Biden to Prioritize U.S. Maritime Defense

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  On Tuesday, U.S. Congressman Mike Waltz (FL-06) and Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ) sent a letter to President Biden urging him to strengthen the United States’ maritime power at a moment when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is extending its influence on the South China Sea and the Houthis are attacking shipping in the Red Sea. Waltz and Kelly were joined a group of 17 bipartisan, bicameral lawmakers.

The group called on the president to establish an interagency maritime policy director, designate maritime infrastructure as “critical infrastructure,” invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) for shipbuilding, and develop a whole-of-government maritime “de-risking” strategy to reduce dependency on Chinese maritime infrastructure and industry.  

“U.S. maritime infrastructure is aging, including in our naval and commercial shipyards, which once produced the world’s finest ships. We have allowed the U.S. flagged international trading fleet to decline precipitously, underinvesting in our Merchant Marine and maritime workforce to man our ships and shipyards,” the lawmakers pointed out.  

The letter also highlighted the United States’ strong maritime tradition and that changing the trajectory of our shipbuilding and shipping industries won’t be quick after years of neglect. 

They continued, “We stand at an inflection point. We must act now—before it is too late—to reinvigorate American and allied maritime power on the seas.”   

Co-signers of Kelly and Waltz’s letter were Senators John Boozman (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Rick Scott (R-FL), along with Representatives James R. Baird (R-IN-4), Jack Bergman (R-MI-1), Byron Donalds (R-FL-19), Neal P. Dunn (R-FL-2), Brad Finstad (R-MN-1), C. Scott Franklin (R-FL18), John Garamendi (D-CA-8), Nick LaLota (R-NY-1), Doug Lamborn (R-CO-5), Richard McCormick (R-GA-6), James C. Moylan (R-GU- District At Large), John H. Rutherford (R-FL-5). 

Click here to read the letter