Coast Guard Bill Includes Components Benefiting Merchant Marine (4/2)

 

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The office of U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) issued the following news release, dated April 1, following unanimous House passage of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014. While the legislation primarily focuses on the Coast Guard, it also includes other SIU-backed provisions supporting U.S. cargo preference laws, calling for the development of a formal national maritime strategy, making it easier for military veterans with sea time to qualify for jobs as civilian mariners, and studying how the export of liquefied natural gas may create jobs in the maritime industry.

 

Ranking Member Garamendi Supports Passage of
Bipartisan Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Bill

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) supported passage of H.R. 4005, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, bipartisan legislation to authorize two-year funding for the United States Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve. Garamendi is the Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Coast Guard and Maritime Subcommittee. The legislation, which passed unanimously out of Committee, was similarly approved by the entire House of Representatives by a voice vote.

 

Upon the bill’s passage, Congressman Garamendi issued the following statement:

 

“These past few years, the maritime sector has faced troubled waters – irrational budget cuts coupled with uncertainty, policy neglect, and an economic downturn. This bipartisan legislation signifies an important step toward getting us back on course. I am confident that we are beginning to right the ship.

 

“George Washington’s Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton referred to our Coast Guard as our ‘Sentinels of Commerce.’ Through commonsense reforms and smart investments, this bill bolsters our Sentinels’ vital economic and security missions.

“This legislation will also provide opportunities for maritime businesses. As this legislation moves forward, I will continue to advocate for additional measures to create more American jobs. This includes requiring that Liquefied Natural Gas is exported on U.S. flagged ships that are built in America and sailed by American crews.

“The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 would provide budget stability for the Coast Guard, advance sensible policy reforms, and promote our merchant marine. I want to thank Chairmen Duncan Hunter and Bill Shuster, and Ranking Member Nick Rahall for their bipartisan work in developing this legislation. We have passed a major hurdle toward strengthening maritime law.”

 

H.R. 4005:

 

  • -- Supports military pay raises for Coast Guard service members consistent with service members of the other armed forces;

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  • -- Expands resources available to build housing for service members and their families;

 

-- Strengthens cooperation between the Coast Guard’s Maritime Personnel Advisory committee and State Maritime Academies, including California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, to develop training standards;

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  • -- Reauthorizes the small shipyard competitive grant program, which in 2011 awarded a grant to a company in Alameda County;

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  • -- Better aligns Coast Guard mission needs with long-term capital planning and annual budget requests;

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  • -- Grants the Coast Guard greater flexibility to augment active duty forces;

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  • -- Provides explicit cooperative agreement authority to enhance the Coast Guard’s ability to develop beneficial partnerships with other maritime stakeholders;

 

  • -- Provides 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; and

 

  • -- Directs the Administration to enforce our cargo preference laws and regulations.

 

Ranking Member Garamendi recently wrote a CNN.com op-ed arguing that the focus on Liquefied Natural Gas exports, spurred by the situation in Ukraine, presents the opportunity to create maritime jobs by applying Buy America rules. Click here to read it.

Garamendi’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, on H.R. 4005 are included below. Video is linked here.

            Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I ask for unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

 

            As explained by the previous speaker, H.R. 4005, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, is bipartisan legislation to authorize two-year funding for the United States Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve that was passed and reported by voice vote by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on February 11th. 

 

            Maintaining safe, reliable and efficient maritime commerce that enables our foreign and domestic trade to fuel the U.S. economy remains as important today as it was in 1790 when former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton established the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service to monitor trade and collect tariffs.

 

            This legislation will provide our Coast Guard, often referred to by Hamilton as our “Sentinels of Commerce”, with the resources and policy tools they need to fulfill their vital missions; missions which have necessarily expanded over time to meet the ever-evolving economic and security demands of our nation.

 

            I want to express my genuine appreciation to Chairman Duncan Hunter and his staff for their willingness to work with me and several other Democrat members to address many of the issues raised by us throughout the legislative process.

 

            The support and thoughtful contributions of the Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Bill Shuster, and the Ranking Democrat Member on the full committee, Nick Rahall, were also extremely beneficial in moving the process forward.

           

            As a result, H.R. 4005 will provide not only budget stability for the Coast Guard, but it will also advance several important initiatives to revitalize our U.S. merchant marine and maritime industry.

 

            First and foremost, the bill includes several non-controversial administrative and management directives to better align the Coast Guard’s mission needs with its long-term capital planning and annual budget requests.      

 

            Additionally, the bill would grant the Coast Guard with greater flexibility to augment active duty forces and provide explicit cooperative agreement authority to enhance the Coast Guard’s ability to develop beneficial partnerships with other maritime stakeholders.

 

            The bill would also provide new guidance to the Coast Guard as it continues to re-build 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.

 

            I am particularly pleased that this legislation would advance several positive policy initiatives to reinvigorate the U.S. merchant marine and improve maritime transportation.  Most noteworthy, this legislation would direct the Administration to enforce our cargo preference laws and regulations, a move which is long overdue.

 

            The export of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is a matter of intense interest right now.

 

            This legislation would direct the Government Accountability Office to conduct an assessment of how this future trade would affect job creation in the maritime industry. And while I contend that our U.S. flag fleet and mariners should directly benefit from any future transport of LNG, this is an appropriate first step to make that goal a reality. Natural gas is a strategic American asset that is allowing America to enjoy low energy costs and a resurgence of American Manufacturing.  The export of LNG at a modest level could create even more American jobs if the LNG is transported on American made LNG tankers flying the American flag with American sailors. The current approved export terminals will require Approximately 100 LNG tankers. This tanker fleet will be phased in as LNG export terminals come on line and LNG exports grow. American shipyards could build these tankers over the next decade and beyond, creating thousands of jobs and maintaining a vital industrial base for America and our Navy.

 

            Moreover, this legislation would direct the Department of Transportation to develop a new National Maritime Strategy. 

 

            This is an idea whose time has come.  I welcome the opportunity to chart a new course forward to improve the competitiveness of the U.S. flag fleet on the high seas, to increase opportunities for short sea shipping, and to expand our commercial shipbuilding industrial base.

 

            I am also pleased that this legislation will reauthorize the Small Shipyard Grant Program through fiscal year 2017. Grants awarded under this program have promoted much-needed capital improvements to improve the quality and competitiveness of our small domestic shipyards.  Reauthorizing this program will build on this success while rebuilding our maritime industrial edge.

 

            We can do more to invigorate the economy and revitalize the maritime fleet by changing the requirement that funds must be appropriated to Title XI before maritime loans can be guaranteed. From Title IX’s inception in 1926, until the passage of the Credit Reform Act in 1991, the program operated smoothly under the full faith and credit of the United States. We could remove this requirement for the Maritime Administration, jumpstarting American manufacturing and good maritime jobs.

 

            In closing, Mr. Speaker, H.R. 4005 is responsible legislation that would provide budget stability for the Coast Guard, advance sensible policy reforms, and promote our merchant marine.  The bill deserves the support of members from both sides and I urge an “aye” vote. 

 

           Thank you, Mr. Speaker.   I reserve the balance of our time.

 

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