Coast Guard funding bill passes Senate

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The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, which authorizes $8.6 billion in fiscal 2013 and $8.7 billion in fiscal 2014 for the activities of the Coast Guard, cleared the Senate Wednesday and is headed to President Obama, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

The House last week approved a bill that resolved differences between earlier versions of the legislation. The Senate’s action on the compromise bill, H.R. 2838, sends it to the president.

“After months of negotiations and on the heels of last week’s vote to fund the Pentagon, the Senate has approved funding for another vital branch of the military,” U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W. Va., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said in a statement.

“In response to Hurricane Sandy, the Coast Guard was instrumental in ensuring safety on the waterways and continuing efforts to recover and rebuild,” Rockefeller added.

“The Coast Guard is our nation’s first line of defense for maritime safety and security,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL), a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a press release. “This bill provides the Coast Guard with the resources to continue to improve the ships, aircraft and communications systems they need to do their jobs.”
Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), the bill’s other co-sponsor, said the bill will halt proposed cuts made by the Obama administration.

“The President proposed to slash the service’s acquisition budget by nearly 20 percent, reduce the number of service members by over a 1,000, close seasonal air facilities, and take recently upgraded helicopters out of service,” LoBiondo said.

“The President’s budget request would have only worsened the Coast Guard’s growing mission performance gaps, increase acquisition delays, drive up the costs of new assets, and deny our service members the critical resources needed to perform their duties. This bill provides sufficient funding to ensure these cuts do not happen and provide the service what it needs to successfully conduct its missions.”

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