Press Releases

Committee Votes for Keeping Cell Phone Calls off Planes, Reauthorizing the U.S. Coast Guard, & Saving Taxpayer Dollars Through GSA Leases

Washington, DC, February 11, 2014 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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Measures to ensure cell phone calls stay out of airplane cabins, to reauthorize the United States Coast Guard, and to save taxpayer dollars through the more efficient use of federal space were approved by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today.

The Full Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, chaired by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), approved the following measures by voice vote:

  • H.R. 3676, Prohibiting In-Flight Voice Communications on Mobile Wireless Devices Act of 2013
  • H.R. 4005, the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014
  • General Services Administration Resolutions
  • H.R. 1378, to designate the United States courthouse located at 333 West Broadway in San Diego, California, as the “James M. Carter and Judith N. Keep United States Courthouse”

    Tap, Don’t Talk

    Chairman Shuster introduced H.R. 3676 in the House, with U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) as the lead Democratic cosponsor of the bill.  The bipartisan legislation prohibits the use of cell phones for voice communications only during the in-flight portion of any scheduled domestic commercial flight.  The bill contains exemptions from the ban for on-duty members of flight and cabin crews, and federal law enforcement personnel acting in an official capacity.

    “This bill is simple.  When it comes to cell phones on planes, tap, don’t talk,” Shuster said.  “Airplane cabins are by nature noisy, crowded, and confined. In our day-to-day lives, when we find someone’s cell phone call to be too loud, too close, or too personal, we can just walk away. But at 30,000 feet, there’s nowhere else for an airline passenger to go.  Under this bill, passengers will be able to use their mobile devices to stay connected, through getting online, emailing, texting, and more.  During flights, it is common sense and common courtesy to continue keeping cell phone calls on the ground.”

    “The American public has made it overwhelmingly clear that they do not want to be subjected to annoying cell phone conversations while stuck on an airplane,” said DeFazio.  “I joined Chairman Shuster’s bipartisan bill because I believe we should do what we can to protect consumers and ensure safety on all flights.  Today’s passage will help preserve passenger sanity.”

    The Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act

    H.R. 4005 is bipartisan legislation that authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to carry out its vital missions, improves USCG mission effectiveness, helps replace and modernize aging Coast Guard assets in a cost effective manner, enhances oversight, and reduces inefficiencies to save taxpayer dollars.  Additionally, the bill strengthens U.S. maritime transportation, reduces regulatory burdens to create jobs and encourage economic growth, and improves the Nation’s competitiveness.

    The bill was introduced in the House by Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Full Committee Chairman Shuster, and Full Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV).

    “This bipartisan bill supports Coast Guard servicemembers by authorizing military pay raises and enhancing military benefits, improves mission effectiveness by replacing and modernizing Coast Guard assets in a cost effective manner, enhances oversight of the Coast Guard, reduces inefficient operations, and saves taxpayer dollars by making common sense reforms to Coast Guard missions and administration,”  said Hunter.  “Furthermore, this legislation helps veterans make the transition from service in the military to good paying jobs in the maritime industry, and it encourages job growth in the maritime sector by cutting regulatory burdens on job creators.”


    “The United States Coast Guard protects the lives and property of those who sail on our waters for recreation and for commerce, provides a critical layer of defense, protects our marine natural resources, and secures our borders against illegal drugs and against human trafficking.  They have a huge job, and they deserve our thanks,” Shuster said.  “This bill ensures the men and women of the Coast Guard have the tools they need to carry out their critical missions, and recognizes how essential a healthy maritime transportation sector is to our economy, our competiveness, and our national security.”

    Today, the Committee unanimously approved an amendment to rename the bill the “Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014,” in honor of Congressman Coble, a member of the Committee who is retiring at the end of the Congress.  Rep. Coble is the only current Member of Congress to have served in the Coast Guard, and he retired from the Coast Guard Reserve as a captain.  “Howard Coble is a Korean War Veteran who served on active duty with the Coast Guard for over five years and then for an additional 18 years as a member of the Coast Guard Reserve,” Shuster said.  “Since he took his seat in Congress in 1985, Howard has been a staunch, tireless advocate for the brave men and women of the Coast Guard, and we are recognizing his lifetime of leadership and dedication to the service by naming this bill after him.”

    Click here for more information about the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act.

    GSA Resolutions

    The Committee also approved General Services Administration (GSA) resolutions, including leases that provide significant improvements in federal building space utilization and reductions in the amount of overall space leased.  The total savings from these space reductions over the terms of the leases is $400.9 million.

    “The seven leases we approved today will save taxpayers $400 million over the terms of the leases, adding to the over $700 million in savings we have already achieved this Congress,” said Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee Chairman Lou Barletta (R-PA).  “In total, this Committee has saved over $1 billion of taxpayer money from common sense reductions in office space for federal agencies.”

    More information from today’s markup, including legislative text and video of today’s markup, is available here

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