Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Committee Amends and Orders HR 4005 Reported

Earlier today the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a mark-up hearing that included, among other things, HR 4005, (renamed) the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014. After adopting two amendments by voice vote and rejecting another by a mainly party-line recorded vote (22 – 33) the Committee ordered the bill reported favorably by voice vote.

Amendments Adopted

An amendment by Rep. Shuster (R,PA) introduced an amendment that renamed the bill after retiring Rep Howard Coble (R,NC). The amendment was adopted by a voice vote.

The other amendment that was adopted was a Manager’s Amendment offered by Rep. Hunter (R,CA), who authored the bill. That amendment added the following sections to the bill:

Sec. 219 Flag Officers.
Sec. 220 Aviation Capability in the Great Lakes Region.
Sec. 316 Enforcement.
Sec. 317 Severe Marine Debris Events.
Sec. 318 Minimum Tonnage for Certain Exports.
Sec. 319 Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee.
Sec. 320 Report on Effect of Lng Export Carriage Requirements on Job Creation in the United States Maritime Industry.
Sec. 609 Fishing Safety Grant Programs.

None of these new sections will be of specific interest to readers of this blog.

Amendment Rejected

One of three amendments that had been offered by Rep. Garamendi (D,CA) would have removed Sections 307 and 308 from the bill. Those provisions dealt with how non-citizen seamen are treated under 46 USC §30104 and removing the option for class action suits by seamen under 46 USC §10313.

Amendments Not Considered

According to the Docs.House.Gov web site there were a number of other amendments that had been offered to HR 4005. Since there is no mention on the Committee Hearing web page, they were either withdrawn or not considered. One would have been of particular interest to readers of this blog. Rep Hahn (D,CA) offered a cybersecurity amendment.

Her amendment would have modified 46 USC §70103(c)(3)(C) [vessel and facility security plan requirements] by adding at the end of clause (v):

(vi) in the case of a security plan for a facility, address cybersecurity attacks;

This provision is more than a little vague, but it would be the first time that MTSA facilities would have had to specifically address cybersecurity issues. If the provision had been adopted (and it might still get added in a floor amendment process) it would have opened the door for the Secretary to consider using the Cybersecurity Framework (to be published tomorrow?) as the basis for the regulation under this new vague provision.

Moving Forward

This bill is moving through the committee process fast enough. I expect that we will see the report on this hearing filed sooner than normal. The bill will move to the floor, probably under an open rule, where floor amendments will get their chance. The bill will then pass in a substantially bipartisan manner.

There is a good chance that the bill could be taken up and passed in the Senate before the Summer Recess.

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