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Public Statements

Coast Guard Authorization Act Of 2006

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


COAST GUARD AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - September 28, 2006)

Mr. LoBIONDO. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 5681) to authorize appropriations for the Coast Guard for fiscal year 2007, and for other purposes, as amended.

The Clerk read as follows:

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2006 authorizes nearly $9 billion in funding for the Coast Guard for fiscal year 2007. This authorization includes funding to support each of the Coast Guard's vitally important missions.

The men and women of the Coast Guard work hard to carry out the service's missions. Each day, they protect the public and help to ensure the safety and security of our great Nation. They are our Nation's maritime first responders.

Consequently, this body must provide these men and women with the assets and resources that they so desperately need. H.R. 5681 will authorize the funding levels required to do just that. For example, the bill authorizes over $1.7 billion for the Coast Guard's integrated Deepwater System, the amount necessary to accelerate the replacement of the Coast Guard's legacy assets from a 25- to 15-year schedule. As the Coast Guard's legacy assets continue to rapidly deteriorate, servicemembers work with the risk that the aircraft or boat they use may fail to operate. This is totally unacceptable. Further, it puts the safety and security of our citizens at risk. We must accelerate the Deepwater Program and make replacement assets available as soon as possible. I strongly urge my colleagues to support the funding levels in this bill.

In addition, H.R. 5681 specifically provides that at least $629 million must be used for search and rescue and at least $502 million must be used for marine safety. While homeland security missions require more resources and personnel than ever, the Coast Guard's other traditional missions are no less important than they have been in the past. Therefore, the bill sets a floor for spending in these critical areas.

The bill also requires the Coast Guard to report to Congress on how they intend to deal with the nearly 20,000-hour annual readiness gap that has developed in the 110-foot patrol boats. This is something that is very disturbing and troubling and must be addressed.

Additionally, the bill includes a provision establishing a civil penalty for individuals who possess personal use quantities of narcotics at maritime facilities or on a vessel. Drug use on vessels can have deadly consequences, and this provision will give the Coast Guard another tool to help keep our waterways safe.

I thank Chairman Young and the ranking members, Mr. Oberstar and Mr. Filner, for working with us so closely to develop this bill. I think it takes a balanced approach to meet the Coast Guard's requirements.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I would like to thank all my colleagues again, thank Mr. Young, Mr. Oberstar, and Mr. Filner on the subcommittee for working so closely for such an excellent product.

I would like to remind all of the Members of the sacrifices that the men and women of the Coast Guard make every day on our behalf. Unsung heroes, underrecognized, underappreciated men and women who are putting their lives on the line for our country with extraordinary dedication. This bill will help give them the tools and the equipment necessary for them to carry out their jobs.

It is, I guess, somewhat fitting that within a very short period of time all of America will have an opportunity to have a much better understanding of what the Coast Guard does because of a film that is being released, I believe, tomorrow, that will paint an extraordinary picture, realistic picture, of Coast Guard rescue swimmers and the danger that the men and women put themselves in every day on our behalf.

So I once again would urge all of my colleagues to please vote ``yes.'

Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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