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First Gov  

March 17, 1998

S. 414 - Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1997
(Hutchison (R) Texas and 4 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports increased competition and decreased paperwork for the ocean shipping industry. The Administration has no objection to Senate passage of the amendment in the nature of a substitute, which we understand will be offered to S. 414. The Administration will seek amendments in the House, however, to:
  • Require public disclosure of essential contract terms established collusively by two or more carriers.

  • Prohibit conferences of carriers from adopting voluntary guidelines and procedures for their members' service contracts.

  • Eliminate undercharge penalties for non-conference carriers who charge less than their published tariff rates, and for individual conference members who charge less than the tariff rates published by the conferences.

  • Clarify that section 5(c) of the bill, prohibiting anti-competitive practices by parties to ocean carrier agreements, applies to conference agreements.

  • Delete Section 401, which would extend eligibility for veteran's burial and funeral benefits to certain U.S. merchant mariners. The Secretary of Defense has adequate authority and administrative procedures under existing law to make determinations regarding the status of civilian groups who rendered service to the Armed Forces of the United States, and has agreed to reconsider the cases of certain World War II merchant mariners.

  • Delete Section 501, Title V, which restricts the Secretary of Transportation from issuing Title XI loan guarantees or commitments to certain vessel operators.

  • Assure continued access by Federal agencies to information necessary to assure compliance with statutory requirements regarding shipping rates charged to Federal agencies by U.S. ocean carriers.


S. 414 would reduce receipts; therefore it is subject to the pay-as-you-go requirement of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1990. OMB's scoring estimates of this bill are currently under development.