House OK’s Bipartisan Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Bill

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December 3, 2014

A conceptual illustration of one of three designs selected by the Coast Guard for the $12 billion Offshore Patrol Cutter program. The design shown here was presented by Bollinger Shipyards of Lockport, LA. Photo: Bollinger Shipyards

WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed H.R. 5769, the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 413-3.

The bipartisan, bicameral legislation 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) was a lead negotiator for this compromise, and he helped shepherd the bill through the House.

“This bipartisan legislation promotes a resurgence of our Coast Guard and maritime industries. The new policy direction, funding, and benefits will support the hardworking men and women who work in the field,” said Congressman Garamendi. “The bill requires the development of a new National Maritime Strategy to serve as a compass and guide us as we navigate the contemporary challenges of the maritime world. It reforms the Coast Guard so the service is more flexible and responsive to our nation’s economic and security needs. The bill also bolsters our strategically vital shipbuilding sector, including reauthorization of the small shipyard competitive grant program, new authority to expedite the procurement of Offshore Patrol Cutters, and enhanced enforcement of U.S. cargo preference requirements that support good paying jobs for U.S. seafarers. H.R. 5769 is a good bipartisan, bicameral compromise. I urge the Senate to pass the bill without delay, so that we can help move our country forward.”

H.R. 5769 was the result of an agreement from Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. With today’s passage in the House, the bill will now go to the Senate for its immediate consideration.

The Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 (H.R. 5769) 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;
  • Support U.S. flagged and crewed vessels by directing the Transportation Department to enforce our cargo preference laws and regulations;
  • 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;
  • 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.

Click here for an overview and section-by-section summary of the bill.

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