Washington Waves
Washington Waves

House Begins Election-Year Work On 2025 Appropriations

Washington, D.C.—Partisan divisions that are expected to doom appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2025 were on full display as the House began moving its spending measures.

A House appropriations subcommittee advanced its draft version of the homeland security spending bill for FY 2025 that includes $175 million for Coast Guard Waterways Commerce Cutters to keep commerce flowing efficiently through the nation’s waterways. Advanced by voice vote, the bill now goes to the full committee for consideration.

The bill also includes $530 million for the Offshore Patrol Cutter program to enhance migrant and narcotics operations in the Caribbean Basin and Eastern Pacific, $335 million for four additional Fast Response Cutters to counter China in the Indo-Pacific and $60 million to extend the life of a Medium Endurance Cutter for the Indo-Pacific. Another $4.2 million would fund increased maritime engagements with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.

To leverage artificial intelligence, the bill includes $10.5 million for a maritime domain awareness platform.

“Keeping Americans safe and secure is our utmost responsibility,” House Appropriations Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said. “This bill supports the brave men and women who help safeguard our nation each day and bolsters port, maritime, aviation and cyber security.”

Democrats on the committee dismissed the Republicans’ approach to spending.

“They want to create chaos to score political points,” said Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), ranking member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the full committee’s ranking member, said the “extreme, partisan bill makes our communities less safe and more vulnerable to terrorism and violent extremists.”

Partisan divisions also marked floor passage of the first House spending bill for FY 2025, which also drew a veto threat from the White House.

Approved by a 209 to 197 vote mostly along party lines, H.R. 8580, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, now goes to the Senate.

Cole focused on the bill’s “full funding” for veterans’ health care and benefits and the “robust funding” for military construction projects with a focus on the Pacific region and military family housing.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs subcommittee, conceded the bill does not face cuts as dramatic as those in other spending bills pushed by the Republican majority but claimed its funding levels slow crucial progress on modernizing military infrastructure.

She also focused her criticism on the “partisan riders” on abortion and other issues.

In its Statement of Administration Policy (SAP), the White House expressed its strong opposition, accusing Republicans of wasting time with partisan bills instead of building on the bipartisan agreement reached last year. The SAP also criticized the “partisan policy provisions.”

“If the President were presented with H.R. 8580, he would veto it,” it stated.

Marine Highway Grants

With little notice, the Maritime Administration (MarAd) is seeking applications for up to $4.85 million in FY 2024 grants for the U.S. Marine Highway Program.

Applications are due July 12, according to MarAd’s Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).

Port authorities are eligible to apply along with state and local governments, U.S. metropolitan planning organizations, tribal governments and private sector operators of facilities with an endorsement letter from the current Marine Highway Route Sponsor.

Objectives of the program include development and promotion of marine highway transportation, relief of landside congestion, reduction of air emissions and generation of other public benefits.

In a recent newsletter, The American Waterways Operators noted MarAd’s NOFO was down from past funding levels. For example, $12 million was available in 2023.

For additional information, contact Fred Jones at 202-366-1123 or mh@dot.gov.

Certificate Of Number

The Coast Guard issued its final rule amending requirements for a Certificate of Number (CON) for vessels to allow any CON to be carried in hard copy or digital form.

Effective July 5, the rule harmonizes with statutory changes made by the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023.

Documents can be viewed at www.regulations.gov under USCG–2023–0600, where the final rule with its plain-language, 100-word-or-less summary will be available.

For additional information, contact Thomas Guess at 206-815-0221 or Thomas.E.Guess@uscg.mil.

Corps Civil Monetary Penalties

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a final rule adjusting its civil monetary penalties (CMP) under the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1922 (RHA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the National Fishing Enhancement Act (NFEA) to account for inflation.

Effective June 4, the rule is explained at www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory-Program-and-Permits/.

For additional information for the RHA portion, contact Joseph Wilson at 202-761-7697 or joseph.r.wilson@usace.army.mil. For the CWA and NFEA portions, contact Matt Wilson at 202-761-5856 or Matthew.S.Wilson@usace.army.mil.

IMO Technical Cooperation

The Department of State is scheduled to conduct a virtual and in-person meeting June 18 in Washington, D.C., to prepare for the 74th session of the International Maritime Organization’s Technical Cooperation Committee meeting in London June 24-28.

Open to the public, the meeting is set to begin at 10 a.m. in the 5PS Conference Room at Coast Guard Headquarters.

Virtual and in-person participation will be limited to the capacity of the phone line and the conference room.

For additional information and to RSVP for both in-person and virtual participation, contact Lt. Emily Rowan at 202-372-1376 or Emily.K.Rowan@uscg.mil.