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The House and Senate Appropriations committees released their non-emergency discretionary spending allocations for fiscal year (FY) 2014 this June. The Senate Appropriations Committee requested $1.058 trillion in non-emergency discretionary funds, while the House Appropriations Committee requested $967 billion. These bills authorize funding levels for all of the subcommittees, including the subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science; Energy and Water Development; and Interior and the Environment.
So far, the Appropriation Committees in each chamber have approved their own on Energy and Water Development appropriations bills, which vary by approximately $4.3 billion. The Senate allocated $34.7 billion to the subcommittee by a vote of 24-6, which will be reported to the full Senate for consideration. The House allocated $30.4 billion by a vote of 28-21, and will be reported to the full House for consideration. The Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development has jurisdiction over the Department of Energy (DOE), including the Energy Information Administration, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the DOE Office of Science. It also has jurisdiction over the Bureau of Reclamation in the Department of the Interior, and other related agencies. The FY 2013 pre-sequester enacted levels for the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development totaled $36.7 billion.
On June 14, 2013, the full House passed H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014 in a 315-108 vote. The bill authorizes appropriations totaling $632 billion for the Department of Defense and certain Department of Energy activities. Although the initial Armed Services Committee Chairman’s mark of the bill included language pertaining to the procurement of rare earth elements, the final approved language contains no mention of the critical minerals.
On June 6, 2013, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2014 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2217). The bill contains a total of $9.9 billion for the Coast Guard, a decrease of $543 million from FY 2013 enacted levels. This funding will have implications for the Coast Guard’s polar icebreaker vessels, which support scientific research and other U.S. interests in polar regions.
Currently, the U.S. polar icebreaking fleet consists of one medium polar icebreaker (Healy), which services primarily as a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel, and one heavy polar ice breaker (Polar Star). Polar Star has exceeded its 30-year service life, and the Coast Guard’s 2014 budget requests continued funding toward the construction of a new icebreaker to replace Polar Star.
The Coast Guard’s recent strategy document for the Arctic highlights the importance of icebreakers to Arctic research, stating, “The United States must have adequate icebreaking capability to support research that advances fundamental understanding of the region and its evolution.”
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter, Healy