Funding Bill Supports Arctic Security, Coast Guard Assets, and Mariner Safety
Murkowski Secures Funding for New Class of Heavy Polar Icebreakers
The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations bill, sending it to the full Senate for consideration. The bill contains a number of priorities secured by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), including investments to strengthen Arctic security, improve emergency response, and support the U.S. Coast Guard, including fully funding the design and construction of the first heavy polar icebreaker in more than 40 years.
“This bill directs federal funding towards a range of significant safety and security initiatives. From investing in our airports and border patrol to improving our fire and emergency response capabilities, this bill is creating safer communities in Alaska and across the nation,” said Senator Murkowski. “We also recognize that in order for the Coast Guard to carry out its mission, whether in the Arctic or on our waters, we must provide them with the necessary tools to do so. This bill prioritizes cutters and the infrastructure needed to support these new Coast Guard assets and takes significant steps towards a bolstered fleet of icebreakers. Today is a significant step as I have long fought to fully fund the acquisition of Arctic-capable icebreakers, for the importance of this vessel to our national security. It’s time for the United States to start acting like an arctic nation and this funding will help us do just that.”
- Polar Icebreakers: Fully funds the design and construction of the first heavy polar icebreaker in more than 40 years at $750 million. This amount will also be used to maintain the accelerated acquisition schedule for a new class of heavy polar icebreakers. The bill also includes language requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit a report on the advantages and disadvantages of using block buy contracting for the acquisition of Polar icebreaker
- Cutters: Includes funding to secure new Coast Guard cutters, including $400 million for Offshore Patrol Cutters, $240 million for four Fast Response Cutters, and $72.6 million for National Security Cutters. In the future, Alaska will be home to a total of six Fast Response Cutters and Offshore Patrol Cutters.
- Shore-Side Infrastructure & Housing in Alaska: Provides $53 million— including $22 million for Kodiak and $31 million for Seward— to build housing and shore-side infrastructure facilities in Alaska to accommodate increases in personnel associated with the new assets that will be homeported in Alaska. The bill also includes language requiring the Coast Guard to report on its needs to improve shore-side infrastructure and housing in Alaska.
- Arctic Strategy: In an attempt to better address the challenges and mission capabilities of the Coast Guard as it implements its Arctic Strategy, language was included directing the Coast Guard to report what additional resources are needed for the Arctic Program Office to further its important mission.
- Alaska Maritime Communications: Requires the Coast Guard to provide a plan to provide communications capability throughout the coastal western Alaska to improve waterway safety and mitigate close calls, collisions, and other dangerous interactions between large ships and subsistence hunter vessels
- Alternative Planning Criteria: Prioritizes oil spill response efforts in the Arctic by directing the Coast Guard to quickly approve Alternative Planning Criteria plans, ensuring that required vessels are covered while transiting the Captain of the Port Zone.
Customs & Border Protection
- Arctic Security: Directs the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) to continue working collaboratively with Canada to explore options to improve the situational awareness and access to information of U.S. law enforcement along our northern borders. [Note: Also provides an increase to $14.3 billion for CBP as a whole and to hire 750 new law enforcement personnel.]
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
- Aviation Security: Includes $50 million for TSA to begin repaying airports that upgraded their explosive detection systems, post-9/11.
- Provides $1.1 billion for cybersecurity efforts and an increase of $33 million for election security information sharing and assistance.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Firefighting and Emergency Response: Improves fire and emergency response capabilities by providing $700 million, equally divided between the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant (SAFER) programs. The bill also includes $44.1 million to support the National Fire Administration and $350 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants.
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