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Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2006

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - May 17, 2005)

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AMENDMENT NO. 7 OFFERED BY MR. LOBIONDO

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

Amendment No. 7 offered by Mr. LoBiondo:

In title I, in the item relating to ``Office of the Secretary and Executive Management'', after the first dollar amount, insert the following: ``(reduced by $130,000,000)''.

In title I, in the item relating to ``Office of the Under Secretary for Management'', after the first dollar amount, insert the following: ``(reduced by $130,000,000)''.

In title I, in the item relating to ``Office of the Chief Financial Officer'', after the dollar amount, insert the following: ``(reduced by $16,000,000)''.

In title I, in the item relating to ``Office of the Chief Information Officer'', after the first dollar amount, insert the following: ``(reduced by $190,000,000)''.

In title II, in the item relating to ``United States Coast Guard-ACQUISITION, CONSTRUCTION, AND IMPROVEMENTS'', after the first dollar amount, insert the following: ``(increased by $466,000,000)''.

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, the amendment I offer today with my colleague and friend, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt), would restore the $466 million cut to the Coast Guard's Integrated Deepwater System. I know the gentleman from Kentucky (Chairman Rogers) strongly supports the Coast Guard; and while I disagree with his decision to cut Deepwater, I understand why the gentleman felt the need to do it.

In light of the post-9/11 capability requirement changes, the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Rogers) asked for a comprehensive implementation plan for the entire life of the program. As the Chair of the Coast Guard authorizing subcommittee, I have also requested the exact same information. Unfortunately, to date, neither the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Rogers) nor I have received the information requested. I would say to the Coast Guard, to the Department of OMB, provide Congress with this information and do it now. No more excuses, just do it now.

If the administration continues to ignore this request, the Deepwater program will be devastated. At $500 million, Deepwater will likely take over 40 years to complete instead of the original 20-year estimation. Thousands of jobs would be lost in a number of States. The total cost to the taxpayer would actually increase substantially because of the delays; and the delivery of the new, more capable vessels, aircraft and communications equipment will be delayed indefinitely.

Specifically, this cut in funding would likely stop all work on the national security cutter affecting jobs in Mississippi. The break in production would negatively impact the already-troubled shipbuilding industry. It would also defer design work on offshore patrol cutters and the fast response cutter, again affecting jobs in Mississippi, would stop work on the vertical takeoff unmanned aerial vehicle, and this affects jobs in Texas. It will scale back the mission effectiveness program of the 210- and 270-foot cutters, which is intended to keep these legacy assets afloat and operational. This will affect jobs in Maryland.

Also, Mr. Chairman, it will affect the operation tempos significantly, placing a tremendous strain on the service's aging legacy assets that are doing the job now.

In fiscal year 2004, the United States Coast Guard lost over 700 patrol days due to failing legacy assets. Last year, the cutter fleet operated free of major casualty less than 50 percent of the time. Last year, the service's fleet of C-130, HU-25, and HH-60 aircraft all failed to meet target levels for readiness. And last year, the Coast Guard's main rescue helicopter experienced in-flight engine failures at a rates of 329 mishaps per 1,000 hours of flight.

All of these issues are putting our men and women in uniform in grave danger and jeopardizing our homeland security mission. The GAO testified before my subcommittee that legacy assets are insufficient to meet mission demands and the need to replace or upgrade deteriorating legacy assets is considerable. The Coast Guard commandant calls it a readiness gap or downward readiness spiral.

Whatever we call it, the fact remains without new and better-equipped assets promised under Deepwater, the Coast Guard will not be able to successfully conduct its homeland security and other vital missions. Delaying Deepwater is bad for homeland security. It is also bad news for the budget. Continuing to defer acquisition of new assets causes the service to sink more and more money into rapidly deteriorating legacy assets just to keep them afloat.

The Coast Guard anticipated spending $20 million annually to keep legacy assets operational; but in 2006 the service expects to spend more than 12 times that much, and that does not take into account the nearly $60 million it will cost to replace the wing boxes on several of the C-130s or the $63 million in other unfunded legacy sustainment priorities.

In order to control costs, we need to invest in replacement assets. The new Deepwater assets will cost much less to maintain and will operate with fewer service members, saving millions in operating expenses and helping our homeland security mission. Deepwater will allow the service to push out the borders and effectively meet the demands of homeland security and other traditional missions.

I urge my colleagues to fully restore the Deepwater funding, and at the appropriate time I intend to withdraw my amendment and hope that the gentleman from Kentucky will have received the information requested from the administration, and work with us as the bill moves forward to restore these desperately needed dollars.

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Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the amendment offered by the gentleman from Connecticut.

As my colleague explained, this amendment will restore the Coast Guard's research and development funding to the Service's budget. The removal of this funding from the Coast Guard's direct control will constrict the Service's ability to direct funding to research programs to support both the Coast Guard's traditional and homeland security missions.

Mr. Chairman, this is the second year that the Administration has proposed to transfer this funding to the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. The Administration has reasoned that the consolidation of research programs within the Department will reduce redundancies and maximize resources available for the entire Department. However, this reasoning does not take into account the strong focus of the Coast Guard's research program to improve the Service's capabilities to carry out its traditional missions of search and rescue, providing aids to navigation, oil spill response and prevention, and illegal drug and migrant interdiction.

Last year, the Coast Guard identified several key areas of concentration for its research and development programs that focused on enhancement to the Coast Guard's maritime safety, maritime mobility, marine environmental protection, and maritime domain awareness programs. I cannot help but be very skeptical that the Coast Guard's research and development program will continue to support such a broad scope of investigations under a DHS program that is wholly devoted to improving homeland security.

The Coast Guard has always been and has continued to be a unique, multi-mission Service within the Federal government. As such, Congress required the Coast Guard to remain an independent entity within the Department of Homeland Security with complete control over all of the Service's functions, authorities, and assets. Any changes to the Coast Guard's research and development program will restrict the Service's ability to improve methods to protect the safety and security of lives and vessels in U.S. waters and on the high seas.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and to maintain the integrity of the Coast Guard by restoring funding for the Service's research and development program. I thank the gentleman from Connecticut again for bringing forth this amendment.

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