February 6, 2003Shake up on key House committeeThe ever useful Shipyard Chronicle from the Shipbuilders Council of America notes that the the House Appropriations Committee has undertaken a major restructuring of its subcommittee jurisdictions in order to create a new Homeland Security Subcommittee.The two largest components of Homeland Security--Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard currently fall under the jurisdiction of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. Under the new structure, the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee will become the Homeland Security Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Hal Rogers .The new subcommittee will have funding authority over the TSA, Coast Guard, Customs, Secret Service, Federal Protective Service, First Responder programs, National Infrastructure Protection (currently under CJS), Animal Plant Inspection Service, National Communications System and Bio-Weapons Defense Center (currently under Defense), various energy and nuclear programs (currently under Energy and Water), Metro Medical Response, Office of Emergency Preparedness, National Stockpile, National Disaster Medical System (currently under Labor-HHS), and FEMA (currently under VA-HUD). A new Subcommittee on Transportation and Treasury will fund non-homeland security related Department of Transporation accounts including the Federal Aviation Administration, Highways, Transit, Highway Safety, AMTRAK, National Transporation Safety Board, Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, MARAD (currently under CJS) and the Federal Maritime Commission (currently under CJS). The new subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Ernest Istook .Istook's Committee will have an important role in deciding whether the vital Title XI shipbuilding mortgage guarantee program gets more in FY2004 than the derisory $4 million asked for by President Bush.Meantime, we're still waiting to see at what level the program will be funded for FY2003! The Shipyard Chronicle says that The Senate Omnibus Appropriations Bill as passed on January 23, 2003 includes $32,852,000 for new Title XI loan guarantees in fiscal 2003. The bill also includes just over $4 million for program administration. The House Appropriations Committee did not act on the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Appropriations bill for fiscal 2003 leaving the Senate mark as the starting point for negotiations between House and Senate conferees charged with finalizing 2003 spending levels.
November 18, 2002Landmark maritime security legislation set for signatureOn Thursday, November 14, the Senate, by a vote of 95-0, approved the conference report to The Maritime Security Act of 2002 , legislation to significantly improve security at the nation's seaports. Initially introduced in 2000, the bill is the culmination of a two-year effort by Sen. Fritz Hollings and Sen. Bob Graham to close the security gaps that exist at ports along America's coasts. The legislation also reauthorizes the Coast Guard for the first time since 1998 and increases its funding and personnel levels. The legislation was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives late Thursday night and now awaits the President's signature. The “Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002” , which was approved by a voice vote, was negotiated by House and Senate Members as a compromise to the two separate maritime security bills that were approved earlier by the two chambers. U.S. Rep. Don Young , the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he was pleased the new bill included virtually every measure that was in the House maritime security legislation (H.R. 3983) that was approved on June 4th. The original House bill had been introduced by Rep. Young, Rep. James Oberstar , Ranking Democrat, Transportation Committee, Rep. Frank LoBiondo , Chairman, Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, and Rep. Corrine Brown , Ranking Democrat, Coast Guard SubcommitteeWhat's in the legislation? Here's a summary of its main points issued by the House Committee on Transportation. The legislation:Requires the Coast Guard to conduct vulnerability assessments of U.S. ports. The results of the assessments will be used to implement a national maritime transportation security planning system, consisting of a comprehensive national plan, specific area plans, and local vessel and marine facility plans.Establishes a requirement for the Coast Guard to assess the effectiveness of security systems in certain foreign ports, and to deny entry to vessels from ports that do not maintain effective security.Individuals who enter secure areas on vessels or facilities will be required to have background checks and transportation security cards issued by the Federal government.Authorizes grants for enhanced facility security at U.S. ports for the next six fiscal years. These grants will help cover the costs of port security improvements and fund research and development projects to determine which technologies will improve port security.Contains several provisions to improve the security of containers. The bill requires the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating to maintain a cargo tracking, identification and screening system for shipping containers shipped to and from the United States.Requires the establishment of performance standards to enhance the physical security of shipping containers, including standards for container seals and locks.Contains other important security enhancements concerning enhanced vessel crewmember identification, Coast Guard sea marshals, and vessel transponders to track the movement of vessels in U.S. waters.Contains several additional security enhancements and other Coast Guard provisions previously passed by the House, including:Authorizes expenditures for the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal year 2003. Title five of the bill authorizes approximately $6 billion for Coast Guard programs and operations for fiscal year 2003. The bill funds the Coast Guard at the levels requested by the President. An injection of $550 million in additional operating resources will also allow the Coast Guard to address chronic budget shortfalls.Authorizes $725 million for Coast Guard acquisitions. This funding will help support recapitalization of the Coast Guard’s vital assets, especially the Coast Guard’s Deepwater program.Click here for a more comprehensive legislative summary prepared by Senator Hollings' office.
July 12, 2002Turf battle threatens Coast guard move to new agencyThe Coast Guard may not sail into a new Department of Homeland Security as smoothly as the Bush Administration had hoped. As widely predicted, Congressional turf battles are already affecting efforts to create the new agency. About 54 percent of the new department's employees and about half its estimated $37 million budget would come from departments currently the responsibility of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Yesterday the committee voted against several key proposals in the Homeland Security Agency proposal. Notably, it voted to prevent the Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency from being absorbed into the proposed new agency. The bipartisan amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (H.R. 5005) was approved by a voice vote. The amendment was authored by Committee Chairman Rep. Don Young and Ranking Democrat Rep. James Oberstar . "There is no doubt that after the events of September 11, the President must be given the resources to protect this country from all attacks, whether terrorist or otherwise," Young said during the markup. "I want to make it clear that I do not object to the creation of a Department of Homeland Security. However, the bill as introduced raises many concerns which this Congress has a responsibility to address." On the issue of the Coast Guard, Young noted that"the legislation states that the primary mission of this department is to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks. It is very likely that all other important missions of the Coast Guard... will become secondary to the effort to combat terrorism." Young told the Committee that "the Coast Guard provides a long list of services to average citizens and has had limited responsibility in the area of security." Though maritime security was an extremely important function of the Coast Guard that should not be minimized, said Young, "Other functions are also extremely important. The Coast Guard provides for search and rescue of boaters, they keep our waterways open to navigation through their ice breaking efforts and maintaining aids to navigation, they protect our environment and fisheries resources, they keep passengers safe on commercial vessels of all types, and interdict both drugs and illegal immigrants. "We've given the Coast Guard a great deal of work to do and they have always carried out their dutieswith distinction. If the Secretary of Homeland Security wants to commit his entire effort to preventing terrorist attacks, under this bill he can reduce the resources of the Coast Guard for these other missions and direct those resources entirely to security." "I have the same concerns regarding FEMA. FEMA is doing a great job responding to both natural and man-made disasters throughout the country. FEMA has many other responsibilities as well. The amendment passed by Young's Committee keeps the U.S. Coast Guard in the Department of Transportation, creates a new Coast Guard Undersecretary whose duties include Homeland Security, and ensures that Coast Guard core missions are performed at adequate levels as envisioned by Congress. The amendment requires the Coast Guard to continue to devote an adequate amount of resources to core Coast Guard missions of search and rescue, fisheries law enforcement, drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, marine environmental protection, and marine safety. Other House committees have also made numerous amendments to the Homeland Security Act. Now a special panel headed by House Majority Leader Dick Armey will try to put them all together into a single package. That panel plans to write its bill next week and bring it to the House floor the following week. Armey's panel has the power to reverse all the decisions taken by the various committees. Young has urged his 75-member committee to block the bill on the floor if they don't get a chance to amend it. Meantime, the Senate must also pass its version of the legislation. Recommend This Page Enter an email address