$7.9B USCG Reauthorization Approved by Subcommittee

Friday, March 12, 2004
Legislation to authorize more than $7.9 billion for the Coast Guard for Fiscal Year 2005, including $1.1 billion for the Deepwater project, was unanimously approved by the U.S. House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee today.

Deepwater is the Coast Guard’s program to replace and modernize its operational capital assets. The Coast Guard’s fleet is rapidly deteriorating, leading to higher safety risks and maintenance costs, and a lower state of readiness. At a Subcommittee hearing last week, the Commandant of the Coast Guard expressed concern that assets are wearing out faster than anticipated.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act for FY 2005 (H.R. 3879) was introduced in the House by:

* U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman

* U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Ranking Democrat

* U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman

* U.S. Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Coast Guard Subcommittee Ranking Democrat

H.R. 3879 “Provides The Coast Guard With The Funding Levels Necessary To Carry Out Its Critical Missions” – Chairman Young

“I am pleased with much of the President’s Fiscal Year 2005 budget, yet I am also concerned with the proposed level of funding for capital acquisitions,” said Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young. “This bill addresses that concern and provides the Coast Guard with the funding levels necessary to carry out its critical missions.

“The American people have placed their trust in us that we will ensure the safety, security, and efficiency of our ports and waterways and we must not disappoint them,” Young said.

“Acceleration Of The Deepwater Project Is Vitally Needed Because The Coast Guard’s Fleet Is Rapidly Deteriorating” – Chairman LoBiondo

“Homeland security missions are requiring more resources and personnel than ever,” Subcommittee Chairman LoBiondo said. “However, the Coast Guard’s other traditional missions like search and rescue, marine safety, migrant interdiction and environmental protection are no less important than they have been in the past. Indeed in the past two weeks, the Coast Guard has been in the press for its work on the BOW MARINER wreck, and on Haitian migrant interdiction.

“The acceleration of the Deepwater project is vitally needed because the Coast Guard’s fleet is rapidly deteriorating. The Coast Guard has increasingly experienced operational failures in their assets resulting in what the service has called a ‘declining readiness spiral.’ These failures have led to increased unscheduled maintenance and total ownership costs. They have resulted in hundreds of patrol days lost and several life-threatening incidents over the past year, which have placed dangerous limitations on the service’s ability to carry out its critical missions.

“Replacing older ships with newer vessels procured under Deepwater would expand the reach of operational capabilities as well as reduce maintenance and repair costs. Accelerated project completion will provide the Coast Guard with badly needed operational assets to meet the service’s many and varied missions and will result in significant savings for the American taxpayers,” LoBiondo said.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act For FY 2005 (H.R. 3879) Highlights of the legislation include:

* Authorizes a total of $7,958,845,000 for the Coast Guard in FY 2005.

* Authorizes Operating Expenses at $5,173,255,000.

* The introduced bill authorized $1.28 billion for Acquisitions, Construction and Improvements (AC&I), of which $858 million was authorized for the Integrated Deepwater System (Deepwater). An amendment offered by Chairman LoBiondo and approved by the Subcommittee increases the AC&I authorization to $1,528, 494,000, of which $1.1 billion is authorized for Deepwater. The AC&I authorization level also includes $75,000,000 to continue equipping C130J aircraft already purchased by the Service.

* Authorizes Reserve Training at the level requested in the President’s FY 2005 budget, $117,000,000.

* Authorizes Environmental Compliance and Restoration at the level requested in the President’s FY 2005 budget, $17,000,000.

* Authorizes Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation at the level requested by the President, $18,500,000, but assumes the funds will be provided directly to the Coast Guard rather than to the DHS Science & Technology Directorate.

* Authorizes $19,136,000, the amount appropriated in FY 2004. The Administration requests no funding to carry out the Truman-Hobbs Act.

* Authorizes retired pay at the amount requested by the Administration, $1,085,460,000. This is a mandatory expenditure.

* Authorizes the Coast Guard to operate at a level of 45,500 active duty personnel as of September 30, 2005. The bill also authorizes the number of students who can participate in Coast Guard training programs.

* In addition to the amendment to increase the authorization level for Deepwater, an amendment to correct the long title of the bill was approved.

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