President Trump signed the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 on Tuesday but indicated that he took issue with some parts of the bill.
The Senate approved the bill 94-6 before Thanksgiving and sent it to Trump’s desk. The two-year authorization allocates $7.9 billion for operating expenses and $2.6 billion for construction, renovation and facilities improvement. It authorizes active duty of 43,009 personnel for Fiscal Year 2018 and 44,500 personnel for Fiscal Year 2019.
The bill authorizes up to $167 million for three new Fast Response Cutters, authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to enter into a multi-year contract to procure three National Security Cutters and requires the Coast Guard to establish its own land-based unmanned aircraft system (UAS) program.
Under a Great Lakes discharge compromise in the bill, the EPA would set the vessel discharge standards while giving the Coast Guard the authority to prescribe and enforce regulations based on those standards.
“So few issues have been bipartisan across the board during my time in Congress but supporting the Coast Guard was always one of them. The men and women in the Coast Guard are always asked to do more with less – finally my colleagues have come around to giving our Coasties more so they can continue their outstanding job,” said LoBiondo, who is retiring from Congress and just received the Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award for longtime advocacy. “It is one of the truest honors of my life to have represented the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May and Air Station Atlantic City for 24 years in Congress.”
In his signing statement, Trump said he believes “several provisions” of the legislation “raise constitutional concerns.”
“One provision, section 319, purports to require the Secretary of the respective department in which the Coast Guard is operating to notify the Congress and then wait 18 months before closing, ceasing operations, or significantly reducing personnel at a Coast Guard air facility,” he said. “I reiterate the longstanding understanding of the executive branch that these types of provisions encompass only actions for which such advance notification is feasible and consistent with the President’s exclusive constitutional authorities as Commander in Chief.”
He also took issue with two sections that “purport to require executive branch officials under my supervision to recommend legislative measures to the Congress.”
“My Administration will treat those provisions consistent with Article II, section 3 of the Constitution, which provides the President the discretion to recommend to the Congress only ‘such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient,'” Trump said.
Trump also objected to a section that he thought gave the Federal Maritime Commission “the authority to construe the antitrust laws” in the Justice Department’s jurisdiction.