Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved FY2014 appropriations for the Coast Guard, which are included in the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill.

The SAC approved $8.6 billion in FY2014 discretionary appropriations for the Coast Guard, more than $550 million higher than the budget request and $200 million more than the $8.4 billion provided in the House-passed bill.

Operating expenses totaling $7 billion are funded in the bill, $187 million higher than the request.  The SAC bill, unlike the House bill, provides $227 million in Coast Guard operating expenses for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) costs. The House agreed with the president’s budget request to fund necessary OCO funding for the Coast Guard through transfers from DoD appropriations. The SAC rejects this proposal and urges the administration to request future OCO funding in the Coast Guard budget.

The SAC, like the House bill, rejects the administration’s proposed reduction to Coast Guard operating expenses. The SAC restores 442 military positions and 600 reservists the administration proposed to cut. Funding would be restored to maintain one of the two High Endurance Cutters (HEC) recommended for decommissioning and the two HC-C130H aircraft proposed for elimination. The House bill also includes funding to maintain the one HEC and the two aircraft.

The SAC bill includes $29.5 million, as requested, to modernize the Coast Guard’s financial systems.

The SAC bill would increase the request for acquisition, construction, and improvements by almost $280 million to $1.230 billion.  Funding would be increased by $235 million to buy four additional Fast Response Cutters (the House bill adds funding for two more ships). The SAC, like the House, approves funding to buy the seventh National Security Cutter (NSC-7) and provide long-lead material for NSC-8. Unlike the House, the SAC did not add funding for one missionized Long Range Surveillance Aircraft. Agreeing with the House, the SAC bill would increase funding for military housing by $18 million to help close family housing gaps at various locations.

The SAC report expresses concern that the Coast Guard has not submitted a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) with the FY2014 budget request as required. As a result of this concern, the SAC bill would withhold $168 million from Coast Guard Headquarters offices until the CIP is submitted. The House bill takes similar action.

The timing of Senate floor action on the bill is unclear as the Senate leadership has not firmed up its plan to consider appropriations bills. To date, eight of the 12 appropriations bills have been cleared for floor action. Only the DoD, Financial Services, Interior and Environment, and State/Foreign Operations bills have not been approved by the SAC.