In December 2020, the House and Senate both voted to pass H.R. 6395, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (“NDAA”). The bill was initially vetoed by former President Trump but the veto was overridden in the House and Senate and became Public Law 116-283 on January 1, 2021. The NDAA authorizes fiscal year 2021 appropriations and sets policies for Department of Defense programs and activities, including military personnel strengths.
Since its passage, the NDAA has been praised by maritime industry groups for its support of the American maritime industry. Most importantly, the NDAA confirmed the applicability of the Jones Act to the burgeoning development of offshore renewable energy. The Jones Act requires that the transportation of merchandise between coastwise points must be by vessels that are owned, operated, and controlled by U.S. citizens. This provision of the NDAA confirming the applicability of the Jones Act was very important to the domestic maritime industry as it cements its role in renewable energy development, particularly offshore wind power. This is expected to bring with it important investment in American-made vessels and the creation of domestic maritime industry jobs.