Washington Waves
Washington Waves

House Freedom Caucus Opposes Funding Agreement

Washington, D.C.—Top congressional leaders announced a bipartisan agreement on topline government funding that they hoped would lead to completing work on much-delayed appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024.

Instead, the agreement triggered a revolt by about a dozen hard-line House Republicans who joined Democrats in defeating a procedural floor vote on an unrelated bill, a direct challenge to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Members of the House Freedom Caucus already had expressed their opposition to the funding agreement reached by Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“It’s even worse than we thought,” they stated on X, formerly known as Twitter, even questioning the topline figure of $1.59 trillion that Johnson had included in his letter to fellow Republicans.

“Don’t believe the spin. Once you break through typical Washington math, the true programmatic spending level is $1.658 trillion—not $1.59 trillion. This is total failure.”

In his letter to his colleagues, Johnson described “hard-fought concessions” secured to unlock the topline figure and allow the appropriators to begin the final work on the 12 annual spending bills.

Meeting with reporters before the House vote, the speaker again described himself as a hardline conservative with a record of trying to cut spending.

Johnson dismissed a question about whether his speakership could be in trouble but noted Republicans currently control the House with one of the smallest majorities in congressional history.

Given the opposition coming from his right flank, he may have to count on Democrats to help him get the spending bills through the House.

Appropriators have only days before hitting deadlines to get the spending bills approved by both chambers and signed into law by the president.

Current funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maritime Administration, two agencies important to the waterways industry, expires January 19.

A second deadline on funding other federal agencies follows on February 2.

Somewhat unexpectedly, Johnson and Schumer expressed confidence that appropriators will get their work done without the need for another stopgap funding measure to avoid a shutdown.

Even before the Republican revolt on the House floor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said it was obvious another continuing resolution will be needed.

New Infrastructure Leader

Mitch Landrieu, who led President Joe Biden’s historic infrastructure effort, is leaving his White House job to join Biden’s re-election effort.

“In two years, our administration has announced over 40,000 infrastructure projects spread across 4,500 communities in every state, territory and Washington, D.C.,” the president said as his thanked the former New Orleans mayor and Louisiana lieutenant governor for his service.

Landrieu is expected to serve as co-chair of Biden’s campaign.

Natalie Quillian, deputy chief of staff, will take over Landrieu’s portfolio, according to the White House.

Maritime Security Committee

The National Maritime Security Advisory Committee is scheduled to conduct a series of meetings February 5-7 in conjunction with the 11th Annual Maritime Security East Conference in Arlington, Va., to discuss NVIC 03–03 updates, active shooters/active threats in the maritime environment and unmanned systems in the maritime environment.

Open to the public, the meetings are to begin at 1:40 p.m. (EST) on the 5th, 10 a.m. (EST) on the 6th and 10:15 a.m. (EST) on the 7th in the Tidewater II conference room at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, 2799 Richmond Highway, Arlington, VA 22202.

The meetings also will be available virtually, and participation will require pre-registration with a limited number of virtual lines available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To ensure comments are received by committee members before the meetings, submit them by February 1, preferably via www.regulations.gov, identified by USCG–2023–0674.

For additional information, to pre-register for virtual participation, to request special accommodations or an alternative method of submitting material, contact Ryan Owens at 202-302-6565 or ryan.f.owens@uscg.mil as soon as possible or no later than February 1.

Ship Design And Construction

The Department of State is scheduled to conduct a public meeting January 17 in Washington, D.C., to prepare for the 10th session of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Subcommittee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC) in London from January 22-26.

To be held in person and via teleconference, the meeting is set to begin at 1 p.m. at the Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

A teleconference phone line with the capacity of 500 participants will be available to those who RSVP.

To RSVP, contact Lt. Cmdr. Bryan Andrews at bryan.j.andrews@uscg.mil or 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, Stop 7509, Washington, DC 20593-7509, by January 5.

Additional information may be found at www.dco.uscg.mil/IMO.

New Year’s Message

In a New Year’s message, Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips thanked U.S. flag mariners for their efforts that help her agency succeed.

“I am amazed by the unwavering dedication and tremendous work ethic displayed by the crews of our U.S.-flag fleet vessels, especially those at sea today, far from friends and family, supporting America’s armed forces and critical supply chains,” Phillips said.

“I hope you and your fellow mariners take pride in your many accomplishments. Know that our agency is focused on continuing to grow the fleet to create a stronger and safer career pathway for you.”