CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 4005, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, under a suspension of the rules. H.R. 4005 was introduced on February 6, 2014 by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote.
H.R. 4005 reauthorizes the activities of the United States Coast Guard at $8.7 billion for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 (currently authorized levels). This legislation supports Coast Guard service members by providing military pay raises for Coast Guard service members, expanding resources available to build service member housing, and ensuring service members in certain fields have opportunity for career advancement. Moreover, it helps to replace aging Coast Guard assets in a cost-effective manner by authorizing funding at a level that will keep critically needed new assets on schedule, encouraging the use of innovative acquisition strategies to reduce costs, and requiring the Coast Guard to reexamine the largest cost drivers in its acquisition program to save taxpayer dollars without reducing mission effectiveness. H.R. 4005 also reduces bureaucracy by removing limitations on the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security to call up Coast Guard reservists to respond to disasters; extending expedited workforce hiring authorities; and eliminating duplicative and outdated reporting requirements.
Additionally, H.R. 4005 enhances oversight by requiring the Coast Guard to submit an annual authorization request to Congress, and conduct an inventory of its real property in order to determine which property can be divested or consolidated. Furthermore, it protects American taxpayers by requiring foreign countries to reimburse the U.S. for providing international iceberg patrols. H.R. 4005 also authorizes $24.7 for the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in FY 2015 and 2016, consistent with FY 2014 levels. This legislation requires the Maritime Administration (MARAD) to develop a National Maritime Strategy to improve the competiveness of the U.S. flagged fleet; reduce regulatory burdens on U.S. flagged vessel operators; increase the use of short seas shipping; and enhance U.S. shipbuilding capacity. Furthermore, it strengthens the enforcement of current law that requires cargo financed by the Federal Government to be shipped on U.S. flagged and crewed vessels.
H.R. 4005 also helps create jobs and encourage economic growth by eliminating regulatory barriers veterans experience when seeking employment on U.S. flagged vessels, and prohibits the Coast Guard from imposing federal regulations on small businesses operating on isolated waters. This legislation permanently exempts owners of fishing vessels and small commercial vessels from having to obtain EPA permits before discharging rain water runoff, air conditioner condensate, and bilge water from their vessels. Finally, H.R. 4005 reforms the FMC by restructuring the terms of commissioners and codifying current conflict of interest prohibitions on the action of commissioners.
In 1996, the Coast Guard developed a Mission Need Statement to establish the assets required to meet the service’s mission requirements, which included outlining how its $24 billion major acquisition program of record would address capability gaps. However, in 2011, the GAO reported that funding requests by the Obama Administration and past administrations was not sufficient to meet acquisition timelines established by the MNS. The GAO reported that at least $1.9 billion in funding would be required annually to build all scheduled assets included in the major acquisition program of record. Moreover, in recent fiscal years, the Obama Administration has proposed to cut Acquisition, Construction, and Improvement (AC&I) funding by over 40 percent from enacted levels. Coast Guard funding requests also fall significantly short of the amounts necessary to build the acquisition program of record on schedule (requests for the AC&I account do not exceed $1.19 billion for any fiscal year in the Service’s FY 2014-2018 Capital Investment Plan).
H.R. 4005 begins to address these concerns by authorizing $1.5 billion in AC&I funding for FY 2015 and FY 2016, in order to keep the major acquisition program of record on a “more sustainable footing.” Furthermore, it requires the Coast Guard Service to provide the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure a plan to “maintain operational capability for its legacy Medium Endurance Cutter (MEC) fleet while it transitions to the replacement Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC),” and authorizes the use of innovative acquisition strategies to reduce costs. Finally, it directs the Coast Guard to submit to the Committee a new MNS to cover all of its major acquisition programs.
 See House Report 113-384, p. 23.
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CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would cost $16.8 billion over the 2015-2019 period, assuming appropriation of the specified and necessary amounts. Enacting H.R. 4005 would not affect direct spending or revenues.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.