Program Update: Advocacy – August 2012
Earlier this month, the President signed into law H.R. 5872, which requires the administration to provide a report within 30 days detailing how it would implement the $109 billion sequester called for in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The new law directs the President to demonstrate what kinds of reductions at the “program, project and activity level” would take place if the across-the-board spending cuts go into effect on January 2. Also this month, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY13 appropriations Department of Defense (DOD) bill by a vote of 30-0. It provides $604.5 billion in base and overseas contingency operation funding, which is below the President’s requested budget of $604.6 billion. Among the Defense Appropriations Act priorities for FY13 is to restore critical capabilities, which includes funds directed at ship modernization, operations and sustainment funds, as well as funds to restore certain satellite programs.
Although Congress was adjourned most of the month of August for recess, legislators on the House Natural Resources Committee continued their work on ocean issues. First, the Committee passed several fisheries bills considered by unanimous consent: the Billfish Conservation Act of 2011 (H.R. 2706) to prohibit the sale of billfish; the Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act of 2012 (H.R. 6060) to maintain base funding for the Upper Colorado and San Juan fish recovery programs through FY2019; and the Fair Trade in Seafood Act (S.3518) to eliminate government subsidization. The Committee also held an oversight field hearing in Panama City, Florida to discuss the importance of the fishing industry to the Florida economy and issues of federal mismanagement and overregulation. Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) called for continued cooperation between commercial and recreational fisheries to adequately address the economic importance of fishing to the local economy.
The House Natural Resources Committee also continued its scrutiny of the Department of Interior’s Drilling Moratorium Report regarding the six month Gulf of Mexico drilling moratorium. Chairman Hastings was granted authority to issue subpoenas to five Obama Administration officials due to their knowledge and involvement in the Drilling Moratorium Report. The subpoenas were issued after the Interior Department was unable to confirm the attendance of five invited officials for the July 25 full committee hearing. The Full Committee hearing has been rescheduled to September 13, 2012. Chairman Hastings also sent a letter to the co-chairs of the National Ocean Council to request documentation regarding the National Ocean Policy (NOP) before completion of the final NOP Implementation Plan. The draft NOP Implementation Plan was released in January of this year, which laid out the initial steps to achieve the NOP vision and specific actions the Federal Government will take to deliver on its NOP targets.
Congress will reconvene for a few weeks in the month of September before adjourning again in time to hit the campaign trail.