House-Senate Panel Agrees On Funding For MarAd, FMC And NOAA

Agreement has been reached by House and Senate negotiators on funding for several maritime agencies and their programs.

A Senate-House conference committee, working on a $22.1 billion appropriations measure for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary and related agencies approved spending totals for the Maritime Administration, Federal Maritime Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

MarAd will get some extra money for its reserve fleet maintenance programs, and there is also money to start a long-term NOAA fleet modernization and replacement program.

Conferees compromised on an appropriation of $17.6 million for the FMC, with an instruction that the agency fill its vacant New Orleans district director position as soon as possible.

They approved nearly $234 million for MarAd's Ready Reserve Force acquisition and maintenance program, an increase of about $9 million above the Bush Administration request. The force is a 96-vessel component of the National Defense Reserve Fleet kept in a quick activation status to meet surge supply requirements in a military emergency.

The conference report encourages MarAd to make every effort to acquire U. S.-built, U. S.-rebuilt or U. S .- documented vessels as the expansion of the ready reserve fleet continues.

The report notes that all of the ship types needed may not be available from U.S. sources in the numbers required, and that the acquisition of some foreign-flagged ships could be necessary.

The conferees created a new fleet modernization, shipbuilding and conversion account for a 10- to 15- year program to replace the agency's aging fleet. The account will start with $33.2 million in it.

Before obligating any of the money for new vessel construction, the agency is directed to review the option of acquiring any excess Navy, Coast Guard or other vessels. The conferees said money obligated for new construction first must be approved by Congress under its reprogramming procedures.

Other stories from November 1991 issue


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