WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump signed S-140, also known as Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, into law which provides $7.9 billion for operating costs and $2.6 billion for procurement, construction, renovation, and facilities improvement for fiscal year 2019.
“So few issues have been bipartisan across the board during my time in Congress but supporting the Coast Guard was always one of them. The men and women in the Coast Guard are always asked to do more with less – finally my colleagues have come around to giving our Coasties more so they can continue their outstanding job,” said LoBiondo (R-2nd) in a press release. “It is one of the truest honors of my life to have represented the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May and Air Station Atlantic City for 24 years in Congress.”
It authorizes active duty of 43,009 personnel for Fiscal Year 2018 and 44,500 personnel for Fiscal Year 2019. The Senate had passed the bill 94-6 in November.
Additionally, the legislation:
- Authorizes up to $167 million for three new Fast Response Cutters;
- Authorizes Department of Homeland Security to enter into a multi-year contract to procure three National Security Cutters; and,
- Requires the Coast Guard to establish its own land-based unmanned aircraft system (UAS) program.
This law also changes discharge requirements for commercial fishing vessels. According to LoBiondo’s office, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard both monitored discharge. Under the new compromise, the EPA would set the discharge standards while the Coast Guard would prescribe and enforce regulations based on those standards. This compromise took more than a decade to reach, so LoBiondo had issued a moratorium on imposing fines on commercial fishing vessels during this time. “Previously, senseless and costly EPA regulations left fishermen on the hook for over $36,000 in daily fines if they fail to get a permit from the EPA to discharge such things as rain water runoff and air conditioner condensate from their vessels,” a statement read.
LoBiondo had been a member of the House Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Subcommittee for the past 22 of his 24 years in Congress. He had served as the Chairman, Vice Chair or Ranking Member for 14 of those years.
“Naming this legislation for our retiring colleague, Frank LoBiondo, is an acknowledgement of his championship of the Coast Guard throughout his congressional career, including during his leadership of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee in five previous congresses,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (PA-9).