Congress Sends Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill to President

Thursday, June 29, 2006
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the conference report for H.R. 889, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2006. On June 22, the U.S. Senate adopted by unanimous consent a resolution that deemed the conference report passed upon the House’s acceptance of the Senate’s correcting language. The bill now goes to the President for his signature. The legislation authorizes $8.7 billion for Fiscal Year 2006. The authorization agreed to will continue to allow the Coast Guard to perform non-homeland security missions such as search and rescue, fisheries enforcement, and marine environmental protection, as well as fund the necessary missions related to ports, waterways, and port security. H.R. 889 includes numerous measures that would allow the Coast Guard to enforce provisions of the Maritime Transportation Security Act, an essential element in securing the nation's ports, waterways, and transportation networks. Additionally, it would address maritime safety issues by allowing the Coast Guard to continue training both the commercial fishing industry and the recreational boating public in issues regarding safety at sea.

The bill authorizes $100 million for the Coast Guard to operate and maintain the polar icebreakers. It also calls on the Coast Guard to take all necessary measures to maintain its current fleet of polar icebreakers, including a plan for the long-term re-capitalization of these assets. As a reflection of its support of the Coast Guard recapitalizing its fleet of cutters and aircraft, the Conference Report authorizes $1.3 billion for the Coast Guard’s Deepwater Program. In response to the final report of the United States Commission on Ocean Policy, the legislation includes provisions that direct the Coast Guard to develop steps that will allow it to better detect and interdict foreign vessels that are violating fishing regulations, and calls on the Coast Guard to seek improvements to flag state implementation of international agreements for the protection of the marine environment and security.

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