The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, with 75,000 horsepower and its 13,500-ton weight, is guided by its crew to break through Antarctic ice en route to the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station on Jan. 15, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley)

Coast Guard Gets $578M Above President’s Budget Request in Appropriations Deal

The final conference bill drafted by House and Senate negotiators to avert a government shutdown provides over $12 billion total funding — $10.3 billion of that discretionary funding — which amounts to $578 million above President Trump’s budget request yet $92 million below the FY 2018 enacted level.

According to a summary of the 1,159-page spending bill, the office of House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said the bill “supports significant new investments in the Coast Guard’s fleets and facilities, including the first Polar Security Cutter in over 40 years, six new Fast Response Cutters, recapitalization of the MH-60 aircraft program, and an additional C-130 J aircraft.”

The bill passed the Senate on Thursday 83-16, and passed the House of Representatives 300-128.

“The strong bipartisan support for this compromise shows Congress at its best,” Lowey said. “While this is not the legislation I would have written on my own, I am proud that it will keep our government open and fund key priorities.”

The Coast Guard gets $15 million for an additional 250 military personnel in the legislative agreement, $12.9 million for the 2019 pay raise, and $2 million to increase child care benefits and cost of living increases.

The bill directs the USCG to submit a plan within 120 days for a one-year pilot program to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which “leads to billions in losses for the global fishing industry and is a source of financing for illicit activity such as piracy, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and slavery.”

“The conferees are concerned about the risks posed by natural disasters, including tsunamis, to Coast Guard stations. The Coast Guard is directed to identify natural disaster risks and develop a plan to mitigate the identified risks and improve the resiliency of stations,” the bill adds.

Within 180 days, the USCG is required to give relevant committees “an assessment of the Coast Guard’s ability to conduct maritime law enforcement activities in the high seas in support of international partners.”

The conference agreement provides an increase of $361,510,000 above the request, including increases of: $5,000,000 for post-delivery activities for the tenth National Security Cutter; $2,600,000 for post-delivery activities for an eleventh National Security Cutter; $5,000,000 for survey and design work to support the acquisition of a Great Lakes icebreaker; $105,000,000 for the HC-130J aircraft program; $95,000,000 to recapitalize MH-60T aircraft; $8,000,000 to fund both the planned avionics upgrades and the costs associated with the service life extension project for HH-65 aircraft; $100,000,000 for additional Fast Response Cutters as described on page 43 of House Report 115-948; $39,510,000 for the top two priorities on the Coast Guard’s Unfunded Priority List (UPL) that support operational assets and maritime commerce and the top priority on the Coast Guard’s UPL for addressing facility deficiencies; and $74,510,000 for the three highest priority MASI projects on the Coast Guard’s UPL and $5,000,000 for survey and design work associated with the Coast Guard’s top UPL aircraft facility priority,” the bill continues. “The agreement includes $655,000,000 for production of the first Polar Security Cutter (PSC) and $20,000,000 for long lead time materials for a second PSC.”

The legislation covers seven appropriations bills: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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