Legislation that authorizes $8.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2006 for the U.S. Coast Guard’s maritime strategy for homeland security, core mission performance and operational assets was approved today by the U.S. House Subcommittee
on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
“The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2005” (H.R. 889) was unanimously approved by a voice vote.
H.R. 889, The Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Act Of 2005
H.R. 889 was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), and is cosponsored by Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Transportation Committee Ranking Democratic Member James Oberstar (D-MN), and Coast Guard Subcommittee Ranking Democratic Member Bob Filner (D-CA).
H.R. 889 authorizes $8.1 billion for fiscal year 2006 for the Coast Guard - $212,900,000 above the amount requested in the Administration’s fiscal year 2006 budget. This request reflects three primary objectives identified by the Coast Guard:
to recapitalize the Coast Guard’s operational assets;
to implement the maritime strategy for homeland security; and
to enhance mission performance.
The amounts authorized are consistent with the Committee-approved Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Views and Estimates.
In addition to the President’s request, H.R. 889 authorizes:
$39 million in Operating Expenses to fund a West Coast Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron;
$134 million for Integrated Deepwater Systems (Deepwater), the Coast Guard’s long-term replacement program for its operational capital assets;
$24 million for Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E). The Administration requests that these funds be provided to the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate rather than the Coast Guard.
$15.9 million for the alteration of bridges designated as obstructions, the amount appropriated in fiscal year 2005.
The bill authorizes an end-of-year military strength level of 45,500 active duty personnel for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 and military student training loads for fiscal year 2006, and makes technical corrections to existing law.
Subcommittee Chairman LoBiondo’s Statement At Markup
This afternoon the Subcommittee is meeting to consider H. R. 889, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2005.
This bill was introduced by the Full Committee Chairman, Mr. Young, and I have joined with the Full Committee Ranking Member, Mr. Oberstar, and the Subcommittee Ranking Member, Mr. Filner, as co-sponsors.
This bill authorizes an amount of $8.1 billion for the Coast Guard for fiscal year 2006. This level of funding is equal to the amounts that were requested by the Administration, as well as an additional $134 million to fund the Integrated Deepwater System at the level authorized by the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004, $15.9 million to restore funding to carry out alterations to bridges, $24 million for the Coast Guard’s research and development program, and $39 million to establish a West Coast Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron.
The Subcommittee is concerned with the Administration’s request for the Coast Guard’s Deepwater program and the recently submitted proposal to “re-baseline” the program. The Subcommittee is currently studying the Coast Guard’s proposal and will review the plan in depth next week during a Subcommittee hearing. In the meantime, I urge the Subcommittee to approve an amount equal to the funding level that was authorized last year. Following our review of the findings from next week’s hearing, I anticipate that we will have the opportunity to re-address the funding level for this critical program at Full Committee.
The bill also restores funding for the Service’s research and development program directly to the Coast Guard as is required by current law. Once again, the Administration has proposed to transfer the Service’s research and development funding to the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. I cannot stress enough how much this Committee disagrees with that proposal. We were successful in rejecting this flawed proposal last year, and this Subcommittee will lead the effort to do so again this year.
While homeland security missions are requiring more resources and personnel than ever, the Coast Guard’s other traditional missions like search and rescue, marine safety, drug and migrant interdiction, fisheries law enforcement and environmental protection are no less important than they have been in the past.
In the past six months, the Coast Guard has led the response to major oil spills in the Delaware River and off the coast of Alaska. These spills are a reminder that the Coast Guard’s traditional missions must remain priorities for the Service. The strength of America’s commerce relies on waterborne trade, and the Coast Guard protects that trade not only from terrorism, but also from other threats.
This bill will provide the Coast Guard with the level of funds necessary to fully carry out the Service’s critical missions. I urge my colleagues to approve it this afternoon.