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Garamendi Coast Guard bill passes House of Representatives

WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, the House of Representatives passed the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1987) by a unanimous voice vote.

Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, co-authored this bipartisan legislation and welcomed its passage.

The bill supports and strengthens the Coast Guard in its critical missions to save lives, safeguard our shores, and protect marine resources.

“America’s Coast Guard and Merchant Marine play an indispensible role in our national security and economic prosperity. This bipartisan legislation supports their work and I applaud its passage,” said Garamendi.

“H.R. 1987 would provide crucial budget stability for our Coast Guard, strengthening its ability to recapitalize its offshore fleets of ships and aircraft,” he said. “The funding level, while far from ideal, will support this recapitalization and help the Coast Guard meet more of its mission goals. The bill also helps us find and implement best practices for meeting personnel needs, measuring performance, and using new technology.”

Garamendi continued, “The bill also would direct the Secretary of Transportation to develop guidelines to promote the use of U.S. flag ships and U.S. mariners in the imminent export of Liquefied Natural Gas. I urge members to support this provision, which will create maritime jobs here at home.”

Statement of Congressman John Garamendi
H.R. 1987, The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015
Floor Consideration under Suspension of the rules
May 18, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I first want to echo Chairman Hunter in stating my strong support for H.R. 1987, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015, legislation that will tend to the needs of our Nation’s fifth military service, the United States Coast Guard.

I also want to express my sincere appreciation to Chairman Hunter for his genuine bipartisan collaboration throughout the development of this important legislation. Not only will this bill improve our oversight of the Coast Guard, it also will enhance the capabilities and performance of this indispensable, multi-mission maritime agency.

I also want to thank the Chairman of the Transportation Committee, Bill Shuster, and the Ranking Democrat Member, Peter DeFazio, and acknowledge them for their thoughtful contributions.

I am particularly pleased that this legislation will provide stability in budget authority for the Coast Guard. Erratic budgets and perpetual continuing resolutions have had a deleterious impact on the Coast Guard. Perhaps most notable, unpredictable and insufficient funding has hampered the Coast Guard’s ability to keep pace with its long-term program to recapitalize its offshore fleets of surface and air assets.

Some of the Coast Guard’s legacy cutters are fifty years old. These vessels are well beyond their estimated service life and have become increasingly unreliable and much more expensive to maintain and repair. We can, and we should, do better by our Coast Guard.

The authorized funding levels for the Acquisitions, Construction and Improvement Account in this legislation will allow the Coast Guard to keep this recapitalization initiative on track. I am optimistic that these authorizations will send a strong signal to our colleagues on the Appropriations Committee.

I also support provisions in the bill that will require the Coast Guard to initiate long-term capital planning, to require better assessments of mission performance metrics and personnel needs, and to assess and test new communication and vessel management technologies.

The bill also contains provisions important to our merchant marine. Provisions that would harmonize the renewal of different mariner credentials and allow mariners greater flexibility in acquiring their medical certifications should improve convenience without sacrificing compliance with fitness and training standards.

The bill also further advances my strong interest in using the imminent U.S. LNG export trade as a new economic opportunity for our shipyards and the U.S. flag in our foreign trade.

This legislation would direct the Secretary of Transportation to develop guidelines to promote the use of U.S. flag vessels and U.S. seafarers in the transport of LNG. I urge members to support this provision that will create maritime jobs here at home.

In closing, Mr. Chairman, this legislation is not perfect, but rarely is that the case. This legislation is, however, a balanced, responsible and forward thinking product that will support our Coast Guard and address important issues raised by maritime stakeholders.

I am proud to be an original cosponsor, and I urge members on both sides to support this legislation. Thank you and I reserve the balance of our time.

 

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