Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015by Representative John Garamendi
Posted on 2015-12-10
GARAMENDI. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may
I am pleased to be here again at the end of another year to rise and join Chairman Hunter, for whom I have great respect. We have been able to get some stuff done.
I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Hunter) for bringing this bill to the floor today to authorize the funding of the United States Coast Guard and to advance new policy initiatives to strengthen the prospects for the U.S. flag and U.S. maritime industry.
H.R. 4188, the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2015, is carefully crafted bipartisan legislation developed over the course of several months of negotiation within this House and with that other body. It is deserving of robust support from Members of both sides of the aisle. I urge its quick passage by the House today.
I want to thank Chairman Hunter for all the leadership and the cooperative spirit in working with me and our other Democratic Members. He addressed our concerns. They were handled and taken care of in the bill.
The willingness of Chairman Hunter and his outstanding staff and members of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee to collaborate and work through the several nettlesome issues is very, very much appreciated.
That is not to say this bill does not contain some items which I might have some lingering concerns about, but they are few. As is the case with every piece of legislation I don't personally draft all by myself, this bill has those minor issues.
I am sure, if the chairman were to draft it all by himself, it would be perfect, also. But we did it together, and it came out quite well.
I am extremely pleased that this legislation would provide stable and sufficient authorized funding levels for the Coast Guard for the next 2 years. The importance of budget stability cannot be overstated. The Coast Guard is pressed daily to meet the demands of its 11 statutory missions.
The last thing the Coast Guard needs is to face recurrent budget uncertainties, a circumstance which would leave the service's leadership unable to know exactly what resources and capabilities they have available to address port and harbor security, illegal drug interdiction, search and rescue, and law enforcement actions, along with many other important activities.
I am also pleased this legislation continues to move the ball down the field in the effort to strengthen and recapitalize a new fleet of Polar-class heavy icebreakers for the Coast Guard, and a cheer goes up between the chairman and myself if we can get that done.
It is clear that we are at the advent of Arctic operations for the Coast Guard, and it is vital that the service has the icebreaking capabilities it will need to operate safely and effectively in this very unforgiving maritime environment.
The bill will advance the completion of the materiel assessment of the Polar Sea to determine, finally, if this heavy icebreaker can be returned to service.
Additionally, this legislation authorized funding to allow the Coast Guard to maintain progress in developing requirements and preliminary design for a new heavy icebreaker. So we will figure out, hopefully, this next year which way we will go.
I am also pleased that this legislation includes language that will continue to preserve the remaining LORAN-C infrastructure until such time as the administration makes a final decision on whether or not to build out an enhanced LORAN or e-LORAN infrastructure to provide a reliable, land-based, low-frequency backup navigation timing signal to back up GPS, the Global Positioning System.
For several years, we have known that the relatively weak, high- frequency GPS signal is fairly easy to corrupt, to degrade, or altogether disrupt, stop.
For this reason, the Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, has called GPS a potential single source of failure for important national defense assets. It is also a major liability across 16 sectors of critical infrastructure.
If Russia, China, and the EU have land-based GPS backup systems, the question is: Why does the United States not have one? This administration needs to make a decision now. At least language in this legislation ensures that we will have available the option of re-purposing what remains of the LORAN-C infrastructure for an e-LORAN system of the future.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I have already said it twice. I will say it a third time. To Chairman Hunter and his staff, we like working with you and we like you, too.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.