April 14, 2005

House panel authorizes $8.1 billion for USCG in FY2006

Legislation that authorizes $8.1 billion in Fiscal Year 2006 for the U.S. Coast Guard's maritime strategy for homeland security, core mission performance and operational assets has been approved by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

"The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2005" (H.R. 889) was unanimously approved by a voice vote.

H.R. 889 was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), and is cosponsored by Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Transportation Committee Ranking Democratic Member James Oberstar (D-MN), and Coast Guard Subcommittee Ranking Democratic Member Bob Filner (D-CA).

H.R. 889 authorizes $8.1 billion for fiscal year 2006 for the Coast Guard--$212,900,000 above the Bush Administration's FY 2006 budget request.

The added funding includes:

  • $39 million in Operating Expenses to fund a West Coast Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron;
  • $134 million for Integrated Deepwater Systems (Deepwater), the Coast Guard's long-term replacement program for its operational capital assets;
  • $24 million for Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E);
  • $15.9 million for the alteration of bridges designated as obstructions, the amount appropriated in fiscal year 2005.
  • The bill authorizes an end-of-year military strength level of 45,500 active duty personnel for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 and military student training loads for fiscal year 2006, and makes technical corrections to existing law.

    Subcommittee Chairman LoBiondo said the subcommittee is concerned with the Administration's request for the Coast Guard's Deepwater program and the recently submitted proposal to "re-baseline" the program.

    "The Subcommittee is currently studying the Coast Guard's proposal and will review the plan in depth next week during a Subcommittee hearing," he said.

    "Following our review of the findings from next week's hearing, I anticipate that we will have the opportunity to re-address the funding level for this critical program at Full Committee.

    Subcommittee Chairman LoBiondo noted that bill also restores funding for the Service's research and development program directly to the Coast Guard as is required by current law.

    "Once again," he said, "the Administration has proposed to transfer the Service's research and development funding to the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. I cannot stress enough how much this Committee disagrees with that proposal. We were successful in rejecting this flawed proposal last year, and this Subcommittee will lead the effort to do so again this year."

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