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Increase Funding for the US Coast Guard

Mar 17, 2005

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the LoBiondo amendment to the DHS authorization and I ask my colleagues to support it.

The Coast Guard yard in Baltimore, MD has dedicated coasties and dedicated civilian personnel, all of whom are fighting to keep us safe and secure. So it is disheartening to hear that the DHS authorization is going to cut critical funding for the Coast Guard to the tune of $466 million.

This in my opinion is a huge mistake. We have asked the Coast Guard to take on an aggressive and daunting role in protecting our coastlines, ports, rivers and waterways, and more importantly keeping our homeland secure. We cannot and should not be cutting their funding. The Coast Guard is moving in a new and exciting direction that will allow for an all encompassing approach including faster, stronger ships along with an aircraft component. At this time we should not be cutting their budget; we should be making sure they have the tools and resources to keep us safe.

It is my understanding that cuts could result in a loss of up to 108 jobs at the Baltimore Yard and I want to let you know that this is completely unacceptable. The Baltimore Coast Guard yard is already scheduled to lose 50 jobs for the MEP program and to add another 108 jobs on top of it would devastate the yard and the proud maritime tradition that Baltimore has.

I support the new direction for the Coast Guard and believe these new capabilities will only make our homeland security stronger. However, losing skilled ship repair and builders is not a good idea. It is hard enough to find trained workers but to keep pushing them aside will only hurt us when we need their help the most.

But aside from that we are cutting the fleet of vessels that are going to be the new line of maritime defense. We cannot let this happen. This Deepwater project is designed around the new cutters, smaller support craft and integrated aircraft fleet. By reducing funding for this program you will hurt the overall effectiveness of the program and we will lose hundreds of jobs of hard working Americans.

I ask my colleagues to stand in support of this amendment.

Reference: H.R. 2360