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Public Statements

Confrence Report onH.R. 2443, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2443, COAST GUARD AND MARITIME TRANSPORTATION ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - July 21, 2004)

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time and for his leadership of the full
committee and this conference. I also want to thank the ranking members, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr.
Oberstar) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Filner), as well as all of the conferees of the House and Senate.

Mr. Speaker, I too rise in strong support of the conference report on the Coast Guard Maritime Transportation Act. The
conference report authorizes funding and personnel numbers for the Coast Guard and includes a number of other
measures that will improve both the operational capability of the Coast Guard and the safety of our maritime
transportation system.

This conference report also includes important provisions designed to build upon the work we did in the Maritime
Transportation Security Act of 2001 to strengthen security at our ports.

H.R. 2443 includes language to clarify that members of the Coast Guard may make arrests for violations of Federal law
while conducting security operations at our port facilities, to direct the Coast Guard to conduct vulnerability
assessments of any waters adjacent to nuclear power plants to help ensure we are properly prepared for a waterborne
threat to these facilities, and to authorize a new program to fund pilot projects that will test promising new technologies
that could improve security at our ports.

I am particularly pleased that the other body has agreed with Members of the House regarding the need to accelerate
Coast Guard's asset recapitalization program known as Operation Deepwater. This report authorizes a funding level of
$1.1 billion for fiscal year 2005. This level of funding puts us on track to accelerate Deepwater's completion date to
February 1, 2006, 5 years earlier than originally planned.

The effective accomplishment of the Coast Guard's national and homeland security missions, as well as its ability to
sustain the level of performance of traditional missions, is predicated upon having a required funding level to replace
its aging and rapidly failing assets sooner than the 20-year projected plan.

The need to accelerate is compelling. Over 20 110-foot patrol boats underwent emergency dry dock for breached hulls
this past year, and the rest of the fleet is in immediate need of repair for structural corrosion. Over the past year, the
HH-65 helicopters have suffered more than 125 in-flight main engine power losses, robbing the asset of its ability to
hover and placing the lives of its crew, passengers and those below in grave danger.

These failures are increasing maintenance costs and are resulting in the direct loss of over 600 patrol days annually,
severely affecting readiness and diminishing the service's ability to respond to terrorist threats and conduct its other
vital missions.

I firmly believe that, as authorizers, it is our job to set goals and priorities for the service. The accelerated replacement
of these assets is one of the Coast Guard's highest priorities. I commend my colleagues for their support of this critical
issue and encourage our appropriators to work towards the goals we have established in this report.
We all praise the work of the men and women of the Coast Guard almost on a daily basis. We have seen the incredible
footage of the videos of the rescues that they have made. We hear of their heroism on a day-in-and-day-out basis. While it is very nice to say thank you in words, we need to show it in deeds, so we are providing the men

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and women of the Coast Guard the assets that they so dramatically need to complete their mission.

Finally, I would like to thank the staff on both sides for their tremendous work, particularly John Rayfield, Eric Nagel,
Marsha Canter from our subcommittee, as well as Liz Megginson from the full committee, and John Cullather from the
staff of the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar) for their efforts. I urge all Members to support this legislation.
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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my tim

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I would like to thank the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar), the gentleman from California (Mr. Filner), the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young), and everyone aforementioned for their support in bringing this conference report to the floor.
I would like just to put a human face on it for a minute, that this is really about the men and women of the Coast Guard who are out there every day doing such a heroic job both here and abroad.
For those who think that the Coast Guard is only here on our shores, recently there was a Coast Guard helicopter crew that was in theater in Iraq. One of those engine failures that I talked about earlier was experienced. The captain of the helicopter really had a tremendous challenge on his hands when he had an engine failure and had to decide whether to set the helicopter down in Syria or do a hard landing on the deck.
We can just let our minds wonder a little bit about what it would have been like to have one of our Coast Guard helicopters having to set down in Syria and the implications of that. We can all see that that is not a good scenario.
He very heroically put the helicopter down without any injuries to himself, the crew, or damage to the helicopter. But it is symptomatic of why we have to make sure that they have the resources necessary. This authorization bill will be a critical, but first step in getting us to that point.

So I would urge all my colleagues to continue to understand the tremendous mission that the Coast Guard has
undertaken, the tremendous job that they do day in and day out. I ask everyone to please support this legislation.

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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