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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Senate News

Proposal for 355-ship US Navy Signed into Law

File photo: Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding (Photo: John Whalen)

Included in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed today by President Donald Trump is policy to grow the U.S. Navy fleet from its current 279 ships to a minimum of 355. “With his signature, President Trump has confirmed the United States’ resolve to meet the growing needs of our U.S. Navy,” said Senate Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.), who introduced the Securing the Homeland by Increasing our Power on the Seas (SHIPS) Act along with Rep. Rob Wittman (Va.).

Transportation Bill Passes Senate

The Senate passed the Department of Transportation appropriations bill, which includes funding for the USCG. The bill, passed in June by the House, had been held up in the Senate by controversies over mass transit and highway funding, as well as requirements for automobile fuel efficiency. The Senate bill funds the USCG at $4 billion for FY 00, a level similar to the House measure, and approximately $93 million more than last year. Preliminary discussion have been taking place between House and Senate staff members regarding the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill, which funds the USACE's civil works program. These talks have been prompted by a tentative House leadership decision to allocate an additional $1.2 billion to the House subcommittee for the bill.

Senate and House Appoint Maritime Conferees

legislation. The conferees will work through the many differences between the Port and Maritime Security Act of 2001 (S. 1214, as passed by the Senate on December 20, 2001), and the Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act of 2002 (S. 4). Also expected to be considered in the conference is Senator John Breaux's (D-LA) Ship, Seafarer and Container Security Act (S. 2329). S. 2329 was approved the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on May 17 and is awaiting consideration by the full Senate. Breaux has stated that his intent is to try to incorporate the bill in any House-Senate conference report on maritime security.

Senate Backs $835m Bill

The AP has reported that the Senate came to an agreement last week on ports security legislation, hoping to approve bolstered protections before November's elections to stop nuclear materials from being smuggled into the country. The $835m bill, which has languished in the Senate for years, resembles plans the House approved in May. But it's not clear how Congress will pay for the security measures, including putting monitors at the Port of Houston and 21 other ports to screen for materials to make radiological "dirty" bombs or nuclear weapons. The agreement among the Senate Finance, Commerce and Homeland Security committees cleared the way for quick consideration by the full Senate. House and Senate aides said they expected the legislation to go to a conference committee.

Louisiana Developments

Senate Bill 1023, which would reduce the number of authorized riverboat gaming licenses from 15 to 14, is pending on the Senate floor, awaiting a vote from the full Senate. Additionally, House Bill 168 would reduce the fees for renewal of riverboat gaming employee permits from $100 to $25. The measure was pending on the House Floor.

Louisiana Developments

Senate Bill 1023, which would reduce the number of authorized riverboat gaming licenses from 15 to 14, is pending on the Senate floor, awaiting a vote from the full Senate. Additionally, House Bill 168 would reduce the fees for renewal of riverboat gaming employee permits from $100 to $25. The measure was pending on the House Floor.

Senate Salvages Shipbuilding Cash

The Hilll is reporting that the Senate narrowly defeated an effort to strike $500 million in hurricane-recovery funding for defense giant Northrop Grumman from a $106.5 billion emergency supplemental spending bill, voting 47-52 to reject an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The provision is said to promise a point of contention in a House-Senate conference because the House-passed version would make $250 million available to Navy shipbuilders on the Gulf Coast, including Northrop Grumman. Source: The Hill

Senate Committee Approves Admiral Loy Nomination

The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs has approved the nomination of Admiral James Loy, USCG (ret) to be Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security. The nomination will go to the full Senate for consideration. Source: HK Law

Adm. Mike Mullen Testifies Before the Senate

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Mullen testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing for appointment to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at Hart Senate Office Building. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley.

White House Is Confident Of Senate Approval for Alaskan Drilling

The White House is confident its plans to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil and natural gas production will win approval in the Senate in September, an administration official said on Wednesday. The area in question, a remote area in northeast Alaska called the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), is ground zero for President George W. Bush's energy package to boost domestic production and wean Americans from some of their dependence on foreign oil imports. "This administration is confident that it can move this package in its entirety," Karen Knutson, deputy director of Vice President Dick Cheney's national energy policy taskforce, said at a panel hosted by a conservative think-tank.

AAPA Commends Senate Leadership For WRDA Passage

AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today lauded leaders of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) and the Senate’s Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Subcommittee for their success in advancing S.2848, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. The Senate passed its version of the legislation today by a vote of 95 to 3. “AAPA commends EPW Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) and EPW Committee and T&I Subcommittee Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA)…

Senate Panel Ponders Expedited LNG Export Reviews

Senator John Hoeven

U.S. lawmakers on the Senate Energy Committee will vote on a bill this week aimed at speeding up the Department of Energy's review of liquefied natural gas export applications. The panel will weigh a bill introduced by Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota, over the summer that would require the DOE to issue a decision on gas export projects within 45 days after companies have filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. While the bill may be able to pass the committee…

West Coast Waterfront Coalition Asks for Balanced Security

In a letter sent to every member of the United States Senate, the West Coast Waterfront Coalition expressed its general support for the Port and Maritime Security Act (S. 1214), but called on the Senate to make two critical changes to the bill before passing it. The group called on the Senate “to remember the importance that our West Coast Ports play in the national economy,” and “to be sensitive to the needs of U.S. businesses all across the country for the rapid movement of inputs to production, parts, and finished products.” In the letter, signed by West Coast Waterfront Coalition Executive Director Robin Lanier, the group called on the Senate to include new provisions in the bill that would require identification cards and background checks for port workers.

Appropriations Process Delayed

The consideration of appropriations bills in the House and Senate slowed to a crawl during the last half of June. Six appropriations bills that had been reported from committee, including the Transportation Appropriations bill, were held up as a result. The House had previously cleared the transportation bill, which funds the USCG, so it will be ready for conference once the Senate acts. In the House, difficulties in keeping appropriations bills within the mandatory budget caps, as well as attempts to trim appropriations bills on the floor, slowed the process. As a result, some appropriations subcommittees will not report out their bills until after the July 4 recess. This is the case with the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill which funds the USACE.

Senate Searches For Agreement on Economic Stimulus Plan

The Senate returned form the Thanksgiving recess still in a deadlock over plans to provide an economic stimulus packaged for a sagging economy. Prior to recess, a bill reported out of the Finance Committee on a party line vote failed to achieve the votes necessary to overcome a procedural objection. As the congress reconvened after Thanksgiving, leaders continued negotiations over the economic stimulus package while the Senate took up railroad legislation and a farm bill. The House of Representatives previously passed its own version of economic stimulus legislation. Both the House-passed bill and the measure reported in the Senate contain provisions for accelerated depreciation of capital assets.

Senate Passes CG Authorization Bill

The Senate passed the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2004. Negotiations can now commence to resolve differences between this bill and the version adopted by the House of Representatives some time ago. The major difference between the two bills regards security plans for foreign vessels subject to the ISPS Code. The House bill would, in accordance with language in the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA), require such a vessel to submit its security plan to the USCG for review and approval. The Senate bill would deem such a vessel to be in compliance with the security plan provisions of the MTSA if it has a security plan that has been approved in accordance with the ISPS Code and operates in compliance with the plan.

U.S. Senate Moves To Debate Energy Savings Bill; Keystone Bid Stalls

Keystone XL Oil pipeline

The U.S. Senate agreed on Tuesday to advance a bipartisan energy efficiency bill, but it could die unless lawmakers end a stalemate on how to proceed with the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline project. The Senate voted 79-20 to move toward a debate on the energy bill, making it the first big energy legislation to reach the Senate floor since 2007. Sponsored by Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the White House-backed bill would save energy through tougher building codes and by making the federal governmentinstall new technologies.

Congress Offshore Drilling Bill Dims

According to Reuters, the U.S. House of Representatives will not accept legislation passed by the Senate that keeps most U.S. Atlantic and Pacific waters off-limits to energy exploration, a key U.S. Republican lawmaker. Comments by Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, chairman of the House Energy Committee, indicate dimming prospects that the energy legislation will pass Congress this year. House Republicans will not concede to Senate lawmakers' calls to accept an offshore drilling bill that expands energy exploration only narrowly, he said. Barton's comments to reporters at the Independent Petroleum Association of America's annual meeting signal tough going for offshore drilling legislation once Congress returns for a short voting session after the Nov. 7 mid-term elections.

Congressional Appropriations Underway

Congress has begun the FY 00 appropriations process as both House and Senate committees made their 302(b) allocations and began to consider individual appropriations bills at the subcommittee and committee level. The 302(b) allocations are the method by which the appropriations committees divide te funds approved in the budget resolution among the 13 appropriations subcommittees. These allocations become the "pot" from which each subcommittee must dispense monies to various programs within their jurisdiction. The Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, which appropriates money for USACE programs, received $21.1 billion in appropriations in FY 99. This year, the Senate subcommittee received $21.3 billion and the House, only $19.4 billion.

Federal Waterways Infrastructure Outlook

© johnsroad7 / Adobe Stock

On Capitol Hill, October 1 was the first day of 2018, at least for the federal government’s fiscal year. In theory, on 10/1, the federal budget is supposed to be finalized with appropriations – i.e., spending – established for the next year. In practice, of course, it rarely works that way. Budget deliberations frequently last through December. And even on New Year’s Eve, Congress may be forced to vote on a Continuing Resolution to keep the government operating. The 2018 budget is of particular interest and it’s particularly important.

New Sub Named USS John Warner

The secretary of the Navy announced that the next Virginia-class attack submarine will be named in honor of recently retired Virginia Senator John Warner. Warner retired Jan. 3, 2009, after 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The USS John Warner, honors Warner's lifetime of service to the nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Sen. Warner's career in public service began in Jan. 1945, the last year of World War II, when he enlisted at the age of 17 in the U.S. Navy, where he earned the rank of Petty Officer 3rd class. In the Fall of 1949, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve. At the outbreak of the Korean War in Oct. 1950, he volunteered for active duty and was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps and served with the 1st Marine Air Wing as a ground communications officer in Korea.

Senate Suggests $1B for 2014 Maintenance Dredging

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development completed its mark up of the fiscal 2014 appropriation bill for the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which includes a record $1 billion draw from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for maintaining America’s federal navigation channels and related infrastructure. “AAPA congratulates (Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee) Chairman Diane Feinstein and the entire subcommittee for recognizing the importance of keeping America’s federal navigation channels accessible for the crucial movement of ocean-going freight and passenger vessels,” said Susan Monteverde, AAPA’s government relations vice president.

US Ports Dredging FY2014: Record Grant Recommended

Following on the heels of House Committee's recommendation, U.S. Senate Subcommittee recommends record US$1-billion for FY2014 maintenance dredging. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development completed its mark up of the fiscal 2014 appropriation bill for the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which includes a record $1 billion draw from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for maintaining America’s federal navigation channels and related infrastructure. "The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) congratulates (Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee)…

Maritime Reporter Magazine Cover Dec 2017 - The Great Ships of 2017

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