House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Passes Strong Legislation Co-Authored by Ranking Member Garamendi and Chairman Hunter on GPS Backup Systems and Heavy Icebreakers
Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, hailed the passage by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of legislation that would require the creation of a GPS backup system and streamline the Coast Guard’s acquisition of a heavy icebreaker fleet. 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 inclusion 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.
“Americans rely on navigation and timing signals from our space-based GPS systems every day. It has revolutionized how we live, work and play,” said Congressman Garamendi. “Disruption of GPS signals would have drastic consequences, but we still don’t have a reliable backup system in case of failure or sabotage. This legislation would require the Coast Guard to develop a reliable ground-based backup system, called eLORAN, within the next three years. This would drastically improve our economic and our national security.”
The legislation would also give the Coast Guard “block buy” authority to build out a fleet of heavy icebreakers. 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.
“The Arctic is an area of increasing economic and geopolitical importance, but the United States only has one operational icebreaker, and it’s 40 years old,” said Garamendi. “Compare that with Russia: they have a fleet of 40, with six more under construction and plans for five more. Our lack of an icebreaker fleet is a glaring national security oversight, and this legislation will help remedy that.”
“As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, SubCommittee Chairman Hunter and I have been urging the development of an eLORAN backup to GPS and a heavy icebreaker fleet for years,” continued Garamendi. “I am pleased that these efforts have finally paid off with a unanimous committee vote for these important security measures.”