After a marathon markup session that began Tuesday morning and ended early Wednesday morning, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a budget reconciliation bill that includes $1.1 billion for two Coast Guard icebreaker programs, the new polar security cutter (PSC) and a vessel for operations on the Great Lakes.
The $60 billion reconciliation measure passed the committee with all Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed and now goes to the House Budget Committee. The measure is part of a larger $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill proposed by House and Senate Democrat leaders to fund a wide range of activities, from infrastructure and affordable housing initiatives to child tax credits, medicare expansion, combating climate change and more.
On Tuesday, the House Homeland Security Committee approved nearly $1.1 billion in a reconciliation bill for the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency for a range of cybersecurity programs, including bolstering critical infrastructure protection and further developing the cyber workforce. That measure was also approved along partisan lines as Republicans are objecting to the $3.5 trillion bill.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure markup includes $788 million for a fourth PSC heavy icebreaker. The Coast Guard currently wants at least three PSCs to replace its lone aging heavy polar icebreaker, the Polar Star, which is undergoing a series of service life extensions to keep it in service until later this decade.
VT Halter Marine is under contract for the PSCs and is expected to soon begin construction of the first ship, which will be delivered in 2024.
The committee also provided $350 million for a new heavy icebreaker to expand icebreaking capacity in the Great Lakes. Currently, the Coast Guard operates a single heavy icebreaker on the Great Lakes, the 240-foot Mackinaw, which was built by Marinette Marine Corp. and commissioned in 2006. The service also operates nine 140-foot icebreaking tugs.