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House Passes Strong Legislation Co-Authored by Reps. John Garamendi and Duncan Hunter on GPS Backup Systems and Heavy Icebreakers

September 26, 2016
Press Release

Today, the House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation co-authored by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Ranking Member and Chairman respectively of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. The bill would require the creation of a GPS backup system and commission a study to document the advantages of acquiring a heavy icebreaker fleet for the Coast Guard. Garamendi has previously introduced standalone legislation, such as H.R. 1678, to encourage development of a GPS backup. This bill served as the basis for even stronger legislation, developed in bipartisan cooperation with Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), that has now passed the full Committee. The passage of both the GPS and heavy icebreaker provisions is a major milestone in a four-year-long effort by Reps. Garamendi and Hunter to address these critical national security issues.

“I am very pleased that the full House of Representatives has acted so quickly on the legislation passed by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week,” said Congressman Garamendi. Building a reliable backup for GPS signals in case of failure or sabotage and building a heavy icebreaker fleet for projecting American sovereignty in the Arctic are crucial national security priorities.”

The legislation would require the Coast Guard to develop a reliable ground-based backup system, commonly called eLORAN, to space-based GPS navigation and timing signals within the next three years and require a study to document the benefits of building out a fleet of heavy icebreakers—a necessary first step to acquiring a fleet. These ships, which are specially designed to navigate ice-covered waters and provide safe passage for other ships, are essential for projecting U.S. sovereignty in the Arctic, but the U.S. currently only has one functioning heavy icebreaker, and it is forty years old.