The president will sign the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act on Tuesday afternoon.
The legislation that would give the state’s fishermen regulatory relief was sent to Donald Trump last week.
He is expected to sign it at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Oval Office.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) November 30, 2018
Supporting the Coast Guard is one of the few bipartisan issues the congressman said he has come across in his nearly quarter-century in Congress.
“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,” he said last week. “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.”
A two-year authorization of the Coast Guard’s budget, the act authorizes $7.9 billion for operating expenses and $2.6 billion for construction, renovation and facilities improvement.
It includes 43,009 active-duty personnel for this Fiscal Year 2018 and 44,500 personnel for next year.
It also authorizes as much as $167 million for three new Fast Response Cutters, and the Department of Homeland Security to enter into a multi-year contract for three National Security Cutters.
It also requires the Coast Guard to establish its own land-based unmanned aircraft system program.
LoBiondo has said the legislation preserves jobs by eliminating the duplicative requirement that both the Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency maintain discharge requirements for commercial fishing vessels.
“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,” LoBiondo’s office said in a news release. “Under this compromise, the EPA would set the vessel discharge standards while giving the Coast Guard the authority to prescribe and enforce regulations based on those standards.”
A moratorium on these fines for South Jersey commercial fishing operations has been intact for more than a decade while the compromise was in the works.
“In South Jersey, commercial fishing operations have long been one of the leading employers, making Cape May the second-largest port by commercial value on the East Coast,” LoBiondo said. “This compromise ensures that the livelihoods of thousands of South Jersey fishermen are no longer threated by duplicative federal bureaucracy and conflicting arbitrary standards.”
Last week LoBiondo received the “Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award” at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.