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House committee approves $8 billion for Coast Guard

House committee approves $8 billion for Coast Guard

   The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee authorized about $8 billion for the Coast Guard in 2005.

   The Coast Guard has increased its homeland security duties since the Sept. 11 attacks, including searching incoming vessels and making sure ports and vessel operators are taking steps to implement mandatory security plans.

   The bill allocates $1.1 billion for the Deepwater Program to replace the service’s aging assets.

   “Helicopter engines are failing in flight, hulls on the patrol boats are literally rusting through, and fires are plaguing engines on the larger vessels,” said Rep. Frank Lobiondo, chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee.

   The funding plan is $39 million more than in President Bush’s budget in order to fund a West Coast helicopter interdiction tactical squadron.

   The bill must go to a conference committee to work out differences with a similar Senate bill.