Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) today announced that following their push, the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes their provision to increase funding for the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program. The National Maritime Heritage Grant Program helps celebrate and honor the nation’s maritime legacy by funding projects that preserve and boost public awareness of the maritime heritage in the United States. The program is currently funded by the sale of obsolete maritime vessels from the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF), though recently, lack of additional funding has inhibited the program from providing grants. The legislation included in the final NDAA, which passed the House of Representatives this week and is expected to be put to a final vote in the Senate in coming days, authorizes an additional $5 million for the program.
“From the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, to Long Island’s Stepping Stones Lighthouse, New York State is home to some of the most breathtaking maritime features in the nation that play an essential role in teaching countless New Yorkers of our state’s proud naval history,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I’m so thrilled to announce that I’ve successfully pushed to include a dedicated funding allocation for the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program in the final NDAA, which is set to pass early next week. For the first time ever, this essential grant program will be funded by the federal purse, ensuring that more of New York’s maritime treasures can be restored and protected for the long-term future.”
“New York State has a rich maritime military history that centers like the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park help to preserve and celebrate. Through them, New Yorkers and tourists are able to see and gain a real appreciation for the battleships and submarines that our service members fought on,” said Senator Gillibrand. “That’s why I’m pleased that this year’s final NDAA includes a dedicated stream of funding for the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program. This will help ensure that our country’s storied maritime history can continue to be preserved for generations to come.”
“This effort began following a conversation I had with Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park leadership at a veteran event this summer discussing the needs of our floating museums here on Buffalo’s waterfront and across the country. Based on their advocacy, I put forward an amendment to the NDAA which was included in the House bill approved in July and led by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand in the final conference report. While just a first step in establishing continuous funding for this competitive grant program, we are hopeful this will provide a pool of resources to help maintain our historic vessels here in Western New York, and preserve the stories of these ships and their missions for the visitors of today and tomorrow,” said Congressman Higgins.