Review of Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request for the 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 Subject Matter
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
(Remarks as Prepared)
Today we convene to review fiscal year 2019 budget requests for the Coast Guard and maritime transportation programs.
The United States Coast Guard is a multi-mission Service and the only armed service with law enforcement authorities. I have ongoing concerns with the Coast Guard being an armed service 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, under the Department, the Coast Guard doesn’t fare well. The Service is hampered by lackluster funding requests that don’t meet the needs of the Service, and, as we heard at last week’s hearing, the Department restricts what performance measures the Coast Guard publicly reports.
Congress needs information to conduct proper oversight and to support programs with adequate funding. The lack of information on how the Service is meeting its statutory missions, and how its assets are meeting, or not meeting, performance goals leaves Congress without much needed information, and could lead to inadequate budget requests and more importantly inadequate funding levels.
The Coast Guard already falls behind the other Services. It is the only armed service subjected to non-defense discretionary budget requirements. This places the Coast Guard in competition with all non-military discretionary spending, despite the Coast Guard being a military service. The lack of budget clarity that the non-defense discretionary budget has imposed on the Coast Guard has definitely impacted the Service in its ability to adequately and consistently fund its programs. As I’ve said before, this, without question, is a risk to national security and should compel a more serious budget approach.
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. The Coast Guard needs sufficient funding to acquire its assets and effectively to do its job.
Today we will also hear from the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). The FMC implements Subtitle IV of title 46, United States Code, Regulation of Ocean Shipping. 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 recent 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. Actions taken by the Commission last year raised concerns with U.S. industry that the limited exemption was being misused. Industry was also rocked by the Hanjin bankruptcy which created disruptions in the supply chain. The Subcommittee worked with the Commission and industry with regard to the Commission’s authorizing legislation to clarify how the Commission 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. MARAD has been an integral part of the Subcommittee’s Military-to-Mariner round tables and discussions to assist active and retired military mariners to move into civilian mariner positions. The Subcommittee looks forward to working with MARAD on these important issues.
I thank our witnesses for being here today and I look forward to hearing their testimony today.