After months of hard work by Alaskan Congressman Don Young, the United States Senate unanimously passed the House-passed Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 (H.R. 2838). This legislation authorizes $8.6 billion in fiscal year 2013 and $8.7 billion in fiscal year 2014 for the Coast Guard.
“The Coast Guard serves a crucially important role in Alaska,” said Rep. Young. “By passing this legislation, Congress is reducing the regulatory burden on the Coast Guard, but also giving it the tools necessary to keep our coasts safe and secure. I applaud Chairman Mica for his hard work and urge the President to sign this bill immediately.”
The original Coast Guard Reauthorization bill passed the House in November 2011. Last week the House passed a compromise bill to bridge the gap between the House and Senate versions.
Congressman Young worked hard to include the following provisions beneficial to Alaska:
- Requires a report from the Coast Guard on the need for an expanded presence in the Arctic region, including forward operating bases, shore infrastructure, personnel, logistics, communications, and affiliated resources requirements to support operations.
- Prevents the Coast Guard from scrapping the heavy icebreaker Polar Sea until it gauges private sector interest in operating an icebreaker and directs the Coast Guard to also assess any interest the private sector would have in buying or leasing the USCGC Polar Sea.
- Requires the Coast Guard to work with all entities (federal, state and local) to decide what needs to be done to make the harbor in St. George a year-round fully functional harbor.
- Includes a provision similar to one Congressman Young has been fighting for that removes the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirement for maritime workers to make multiple trips to a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) enrollment center in order to receive the TWIC ID card.
- In addition to removing the burdensome TWIC ID card requirement, H.R. 2838 extends the deadline for compliance with new Coast Guard regulations on fishing vessels and extends the duration of medical certificates so maritime workers can continue to work while the Coast Guard reduces its backlog of applications.