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Dec 22nd
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Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation bill signed; strengthens economy and national security, includes Growing American Shipping Act

On Friday President Barack Obama signed into law S. 2444, the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014.

Earlier this month, this bipartisan legislation passed both Chambers of Congress by unanimous consent.

“Now that the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act is the law of the land, we are reminded that even in this deeply divided Congress, good and important legislation can sometimes make it to the finish line,” Ranking Member Garamendi said. “I thank President Obama for signing this legislation. I also thank my colleague on the subcommittee, Chairman Duncan Hunter, as well as Chairman Bill Shuster, Ranking Member Nick Rahall, Senator Jay Rockefeller, and Senator John Thune, for working closely with me in an inclusive and bipartisan way. We didn’t craft a perfect law, but it’s a strong compromise that will strengthen our economy and improve our national security.”

The law reauthorizes funding for the United States Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve, and the Federal Maritime Commission. It also provides policy direction and certainty for these entities and the entire maritime sector.

As Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03) worked closely with Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA-5) to write the bill; negotiated a bipartisan, bicameral compromise; and built support for passage through both chambers of Congress and with the Administration.

“With this law, we are modernizing the Coast Guard and strengthening businesses that depend on maritime transport – which is almost every business. We’re also strengthening American shipbuilding, the backbone of our maritime sector,” Congressman Garamendi added.

The law also incorporates legislation that Congressman Garamendi introduced, H.R. 5270, the Growing American Shipping Act, which requires that the Department of Transportation develop policies that enhance the national security and port safety of the United States by encouraging to the maximum extent practicable the transport of liquefied natural gas on U.S.-built and -flag vessels when it is decided to export.

This law aims to maintain the technological ability of the United States shipbuilding industry to build and repair vessels for the Navy and the Coast Guard by maintaining the critical industrial infrastructure and skilled human workforce necessary to build such vessels.

Further, this law promotes American job creation by encouraging domestic shipbuilding and the use of U.S. mariners when the transport of American LNG occurs.

“When we export LNG, it should be on ships built in America with American crews,” Garamendi continued. “So long as we choose to export LNG, it should be creating good American jobs in the process, and the revitalization of America’s shipbuilding industry has spiraling impacts that go far beyond this commodity. I’m proud of the work we put into creating this law, and I thank everyone in Congress and the Administration who was supportive through this process.”

The Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 (S. 2444) includes provisions that:

– Authorize the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve for fiscal year 2015;
– Support Coast Guard servicemembers and their families by providing new child care and family support programs;
– Require development of a comprehensive National Maritime Strategy;
– Reauthorize the small shipyard competitive grant program, which in 2011 awarded a $1.4 million grant to a facility in Alameda County;
– Provide new guidance to the Coast Guard as it continues to rebuild its offshore fleet of cutters, including the granting of multi-year procurement authority for the new Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) which will help expedite the construction of this new class of cutter once a final design is selected next year;
– Clarify existing authorities to promote the use of U.S. flag vessels in the export of LNG;
– Strengthen cooperation between the Coast Guard and State Maritime Academies, including California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, by codifying the Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee;
– Help replace and modernize aging Coast Guard assets in a cost-effective manner;
– Provide new directives that the Coast Guard needs to prepare for full-time operations and for the safety of maritime transportation in the Arctic, including authority to reactivate the heavy icebreaker Polar Sea;
– Provide explicit cooperative agreement authority to enhance the Coast Guard’s ability to develop beneficial partnerships with other maritime stakeholders, including private businesses, nonprofits, and foreign governments;
– Improve Coast Guard acquisition activities;
– Enhance Congressional oversight; and
– Create opportunities for veterans to transition to careers in the Merchant Marine.

The legislation is named in honor of retiring Congressman and long-serving House Transportation Committee Member Howard Coble, the only current member of Congress to have served in the Coast Guard and a strong supporter of the service.

 

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