Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Short-Term Agreement Reached On Debt Limit

Washington, D.C.—Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced a short-term agreement has been reached on the debt limit through early December.

“It’s our hope that we can get this done as soon as today (Thursday),” Schumer said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whom Democrats have criticized for not supporting an effort to address the debt limit issue, noted the talks are moving the chamber toward the path he laid out previously.

“The pathway our Democratic colleagues have accepted will spare the American people any near-term crisis,” McConnell said.

That agreement, if it holds and is accepted by the House and the White House, will allow the country to avoid a historic default that has been described as an economic calamity.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen views October 18 as the deadline for action.

News of an agreement on temporary action on the debt limit came just days after Congress gave final legislative approval and President Joe Biden signed into law a stopgap measure to keep the government funded through December 3.

Once the debt limit crisis is addressed at least through early December, Democratic leaders are expected to refocus efforts on  differences within their own party that have stalled a trillion-dollar traditional infrastructure package that has passed the Senate with bipartisan support as well as a so-called human infrastructure package.

Possibly totaling trillions of dollars, the larger measure is expected to pass with only Democratic votes.

NMC Glitch

Mariners who submitted an application for a medical certificate to MEDAIP@uscg.mil from September 21 through September 28 should resubmit their application package, the National Maritime Center (NMC) announced.

“Due to a technical issue, medical certificate applications submitted during this time period were not received at the National Maritime Center (NMC) and are not being processed,” the NMC stated.

“The issue has been resolved and MEDAIP@uscg.mil is now available to receive medical certificate applications.”

Please note, the NMC added, mariners impacted by this issue will not receive a response of application receipt upon resubmission.

For additional information, contact the NMC Customer Service Center, which is available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, or contact the NMC call center at 1-888-IASKNMC (427-5662) and IASKNMC@uscg.mil.

NEPA Restoration

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced plans to restore decades-old provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations overhauled by the Trump administration last year.

“The basic community safeguards we are proposing to restore would help ensure that American infrastructure gets built right the first time, and delivers real benefits—not harms—to people who live nearby,” CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory said of the “Phase 1” of the proposed rule.

Mallory described CEQ’s effort as “patching these holes” in the environmental review process to reduce conflict and litigation.

Under the proposed changes, CEQ’s NEPA regulations would be established as a floor, rather than a ceiling, for environmental review standards.

CEQ is seeking public comment on its proposed revisions.

Two public meetings have been scheduled at 1 p.m. EDT October 19 and 5 p.m. EDT October 21.

For more information or to register for the meetings, visit http://nepa.gov.

CEQ said it was working on “broader Phase 2” changes to NEPA regulations.

In promoting his administration’s NEPA reforms, then-President Donald Trump criticized what he called endless infrastructure delays caused by regulatory nightmare.

A key Republican senator picked up that theme in her response to CEQ’s announcement.

“Protracting the paperwork process adds unnecessary red tape back into building infrastructure,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Tankerman Endorsement Change

The Coast Guard will no longer issue or renew Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) endorsements for Tankerman PIC Restricted to Fuel Transfers on Towing Vessels, the National Maritime Center (NMC) announced.

That announcement followed the cancellation of Policy Letter 01-17, Guidelines for Issuing Endorsements for Tankerman PIC Restricted to Fuel Transfers on Towing Vessels, according to the Office of Merchant Mariner Credentialing (CG-MMC).

Consistent with a final rule published in May 2020, the NMC said mariners have two options to qualify as the PIC of Fuel Transfers for the transfer of fuel oil on both inspected and uninspected vessels: (1) Hold a valid MMC with either an officer or Tankerman-PIC endorsement (not restricted to fuel transfers); or (2) use the option for inspected vessels of designating a PIC with an LOD as described in 33 CFR 155.715.

Mariners with existing endorsements as Tankerman PIC Restricted to Fuel Transfers on Towing Vessels will be notified at renewal that the endorsement is no longer an option for serving as PIC of fuel transfers and that the endorsement Tankerman PIC Restricted to Fuel Transfers on Towing Vessels will no longer be issued or renewed by the Coast Guard.

The Final Rule on Person in Charge of Fuel Transfers can be accessed here.

Questions on this bulletin should be directed to MMCPolicy@uscg.mil.

IGF Code Operations

The Coast Guard unveiled a revision to CG–MMC Policy Letter 01–21 to reduce the amount of seagoing service required to renew an endorsement for Basic or Advanced IGF Code Operations and to add an additional method to renew the endorsement by providing evidence of being a qualified instructor of a relevant course.

Effective September 20, the revision can be viewed in the policy letter by searching docket number USCG–2021–0735 at www.regulations.gov.

For additional information, contact James Cavo at 202-372-1205.

Polar Code Operations

The Coast Guard announced revision to the CG-MMC Policy Letter 02–18 to include the requirements for renewal of Basic and Advanced Polar Code Operations endorsements, which were not included in the original policy letter.

Effective September 20, the change can be viewed by searching docket number USCG–2021–0734 at www.regulations.gov.

For additional information, contact James Cavo at 202-372-1205.