Authorization of Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Programs
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
Summary of the Subject Matter
Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
Hearing on “Reauthorization of Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Programs”
April 4, 2017
(Remarks as Prepared)
Good afternoon, and welcome to our first hearing in the 115th Congress to review Coast Guard and maritime transportation programs.
As we all know, the United States Coast Guard is a critical component of our Nation’s defense and homeland security. It is an armed service, and of the five armed services, it is unique as the only one with law enforcement authorities.
The Coast Guard has moved between different federal departments over its history, with some departments being a better fit than others for the Service. I have ongoing concerns with the Coast Guard being within the Department of Homeland Security. On its face, the Coast Guard should fit comfortably within the Department due to its role in defense and homeland security. However, when it comes to budgetary support, it appears the Department, or more likely it is the Office of Management and Budget, ignores Coast Guard priorities for Department or other Administration priorities.
The Coast Guard’s budget has been determined to be non-defense discretionary, placing it in competition against all non-military discretionary spending, despite the Coast Guard being a military service at its core. No other military service has experienced such a disadvantage and been denied budget clarity and foresight like the Coast Guard. This, without question, is a risk to national security and should compel a more serious budget approach.
There are a number of us, including the ranking member and myself, that are members of both this committee and the Armed Services Committee, who understand the requirements of the Service. When the Service is active in a time of war, it works as part of the Navy, but every day its missions are critical to our national defense. I will repeat: every day the Coast Guard’s missions are critical to our Nation’s defense. We are nowhere close to the budget numbers being final and I look forward to working with the Coast Guard to provide the Service with the funding it needs to do its job.
We will also hear from the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). The FMC implements the Shipping Act of 1984 and other shipping-related legislation. The FMC administers a limited antitrust exemption for ocean carriers to ensure fair competition among foreign and U.S. shipping interests. The contraction of the ocean carrier industry over the years has many carriers operating within shipping alliances to reduce operating costs. The FMC oversees agreements that form these alliances to ensure they adhere to the limited antitrust exemption. Recent action by the FMC has U.S. industry concerned the limited exemption is being misused. The industry was also rocked by the Hanjin bankruptcy which created turmoil in the supply chain. The Subcommittee is interested in how the FMC assesses agreements and works with industry to prevent other supply chain disruptions and maintain fair shipping practices.
MARAD is also with us today. The Subcommittee shares jurisdiction over the Maritime Administration with the Armed Services Committee, having jurisdiction over the non-national security aspects of the merchant marine. This subcommittee understands the critical role U.S. mariners have in supporting domestic shipping operations as well as defense operations including the Maritime Security Program and Sea Lift. The Subcommittee looks forward to working with MARAD on these important issues.