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Mr. DOLD. I certainly want to thank the chairman and the ranking member for their leadership on this legislation, and I want to thank the staff for working with me on this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, my amendment increases the Coast Guard operating expenses by $5.2 million to address search and rescue capabilities in the Great Lakes Region. Search and rescue is one of the Coast Guard's oldest missions, dating back to the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service that was founded in 1790.
Today, Coast Guard search and rescue response involves multimission stations, cutters, aircraft, and boats linked by communication networks. It also includes over 5,000 commercial vessels that provide a voluntary global response force. Using these assets in the past year, the Coast Guard has responded to over 6,468 search and rescue cases, assisting over 10,000 people and saving over 1,400 lives. Just last week, Mr. Chairman, two young women were saved by the Coast Guard's air assets on Lake Michigan.
Unlike the President's budget, which makes dramatic cuts to critical search and rescue operations, this amendment would increase our Nation's search and rescue capabilities by adding funding for needed assets, assets vital to lifesaving capabilities.
Mr. Chairman, these investments build on previous investments that specifically increase capability in the Great Lakes to include the installation of Rescue 21 this past December. Rescue 21 is now standing watch on over 42,000 miles of coastline, improving the Coast Guard's ability to assist mariners in distress and saving lives and property. Further, by the end of this fiscal year, the Coast Guard will have delivered the last of three new long-range response boats to the Great Lakes area, which will enhance response capabilities.
Mr. Chairman, the Great Lakes is one of the most popular recreation areas in our country, and the Coast Guard is a vital part of making it safe for thousands each year. We can't stand by and allow the administration to eliminate lifesaving efforts on our Great Lakes, so I certainly urge support for this amendment.
I do want to yield the remaining time I have to my good friend who has been instrumental in assisting me on this amendment, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Huizenga).
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