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Coast Guard Hurricane Relief Act of 2005

Location: Washington, DC

COAST GUARD HURRICANE RELIEF ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - December 14, 2005)

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 4508) to commend the outstanding efforts in response to Hurricane Katrina by members and employees of the Coast Guard, to provide temporary relief to certain persons affected by such hurricane with respect to certain laws administered by the Coast Guard, and for other purposes.


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

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this important bill to address the concerns of Coast Guardsmen and the merchant mariner community that were affected by the recent hurricanes along the gulf coast. Most of the provisions that are being offered in this bill are nearly identical to the language that was included in H.R. 889, the Coast Guard Maritime Transportation Act of 2005, that is currently in conference with the Senate. The conferees have made a great deal of progress towards reconciling the language in both bills. However, some issues remain unresolved. As a result, we are moving these temporary extensions today.

This bill authorizes the Coast Guard to temporarily extend the validity of Merchant Mariner Document licenses and vessel certificates of inspection for mariners and vessel owners in the region that was affected by Hurricane Katrina. This extension will allow merchant mariners to continue working in the gulf region and will also allow the Coast Guard to continue its efforts to recover documents that were held at the Regional Examination Center in New Orleans.

This bill also includes a provision to preserve up to 90 days of accumulated leave that would have been lost at the end of this year for Coast Guardsmen who were assigned to operations in response to Hurricane Katrina.

Lastly, the bill commends the men and women of the Coast Guard for their heroic and extraordinary service in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita this year.

We all watched with admiration at the skill of the Coast Guard helicopter and boat crews who rescued over 33,000 Americans. And while there were a lot of questions and still remain a lot of questions about the Federal response and that whole situation surrounding the gulf coast storms, the Coast Guard is a shining bright light of what dedication and extraordinary service to their country these young men and women have provided in response to a national disaster and emergency, the likes of which we have hardly ever seen before. We thank them for their selfless service and celebrate their bravery and outstanding efforts.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the Coast Guard and the maritime community by supporting this important bill.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


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

I will close briefly and thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Filner) for joining me, and the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. Young) and the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Oberstar) for their strong support. I thank the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Boyd).

This is a great example of how we can recognize a problem, put our shoulders to the same wheel, and move forward with an issue.

I will just use the opportunity, in addition to urging my colleagues to support this legislation, to remind them that over the year we have continued to give the Coast Guard many more missions, but not any more resources. Katrina and Rita were a great example of the dedication and the training and the patriotism of our men and women in the Coast Guard, and it should be a great example for all of us as to why we must continue to focus on getting these men and women the key resources they need for additional personnel, for men and for assets.

There is not a mission that we could give the Coast Guard that they could not do unless we deny them the ability through the resources to be able to do that.

We have made some great strides this year. The Coast Guard continues to do an outstanding job in relation to their domestic priorities, but especially for their number one mission now, which is homeland security and maritime antiterrorism.

So, Mr. Speaker, once again, I thank my colleagues and urge everyone to support this legislation.


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