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Wicker reaffirms importance of America’s mariners

Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1787, A few armed vessels, judiciously stationed at the entrances of our ports, might at small expense be made useful sentinels of the laws. The Federalist author and father of the future Coast Guard recognized the value that these vessels could bring to an emerging new nation. That value remains true today, although the responsibilities and duties for our modern Coast Guard have grown far beyond the fleet s early days.

On May 18, the Senate Commerce Committee passed a reauthorization bill to ensure the Coast Guard can continue to fulfill these responsibilities and duties. The legislation, which I support, would authorize Coast Guard funding for the next two fiscal years, paving the way for new national security cutters and strengthening efforts to fight illicit drug trafficking and smuggling. When it comes to border security, the Coast Guard is on the front lines of our defense. Mississippi contributes to the Coast Guard s success, with shipbuilders at Huntington Ingalls in Pascagoula constructing the fleet s state-of-the-art national security cutters. Under the Coast Guard Authorization Act, multiyear funding would help reduce costs over time and offer crucial predictability to our nation s shipyards and our shipbuilding workforce. Predictability is important for shipbuilders, and it is important to those operating commercial vessels along our shores. To help foster greater regulatory certainty, I introduced the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act earlier this year, which would create a uniform but rigorous standard that the Coast Guard could enforce for ballast water and other vessel discharges. Right now, there are overlapping standards for commercial vessels from two federal agencies and 25 states.

I am pleased the Commerce Committee has included my legislation in the reauthorization of the Coast Guard. A scientifically attainable national standard would be a needed step toward consistency and simplicity. It would also eliminate unnecessary costs on vessel operators, who have to install equipment to meet multiple standards or incur state fines. Alongside our Coast Guard, the work of the U.S. Merchant Marine is critical to national security and trade. Serving as the crew on civilian ships, merchant mariners work to keep U.S. commerce strong. They are also ready to assist with national defense in times of war or emergency, providing military transportation needs when necessary. As a congressional member of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy s Board of Visitors, I am committed to ensuring that our future mariners are prepared for their service. This includes the continued success of the Sea Year training program. The long-running and esteemed Sea Year program allows students to gain experience working on U.S.-flagged commercial ships. I remain engaged with the Maritime Administration and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to restore the Sea Year program to full capacity following its suspension and reinstatement over the past year.

Alexander Hamilton may not have envisioned the scope of the maritime traffic around our shores today, but his words are prudent even centuries later. With a coastline that stretches tens of thousands of miles and maritime commerce contributing tens of billions of dollars to the economy, America needs a reliable and capable Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.

The Latest: 71 Syrians stopped trying to reach Greece by sea

The Latest on migration issues in Europe (all times local):

2:05 p.m. Turkey’s coast guard says it stopped 71 Syrian migrants attempting to reach Greece. The migrants were stopped in a rubber dinghy early Tuesday in Izmir province, on the Aegean sea, as they began their journey to the Greek island of Lesbos.

Turkey and the European Union struck a deal in March 2016 to stem the flow of migrants from Turkey’s western coasts. In the year before the deal, an estimated 1 million people crossed to Greece and nearly half landed on Lesbos. Hundreds drowned. According to Turkish coast guard statistics, more than 5,000 migrants have been stopped so far this year, a fifth of the total number in 2016.

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12:25 p.m. Romanian border police have detained 14 Syrian and Iraqi migrants in western Romania who are suspected of illegally trying to cross the border and head to the Schengen zone.

Police said in a statement they discovered the group of six men, six women and two minors early Tuesday on a field close to the Hungarian border. They said the group was unable to “justify their presence in the area” and were taken for questioning. The adults are aged 18 to 60, accompanied by a 3-year-old and a teenager. They told police they were trying to reach the Schengen visa-free travel zone. Romania isn’t in the Schengen zone, but Hungary is.

They are being questioned for attempted illegal border crossing.

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10:55 a.m. Germany’s highest court has upheld a complaint by a Syrian whose asylum claim was rejected because he’d already been granted asylum in Greece. The man, whose name wasn’t released, arrived in Germany in 2015. He told officials he had already been granted protection in Greece but had been living on the street there and received no support from the Greek government.

The man’s claim in Germany was rejected, meaning that he risked deportation to Greece. Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court said Tuesday that a lower court had wrongly failed to take account of a lack of welfare payments for refugees in Greece and to check whether there were assurances that the man would be given at least temporary housing.

Judges sent the case back to the lower court to reconsider.

ROGER WICKER: America needs reliable, capable Coast Guard

Alexander Hamilton wrote in 1787, A few armed vessels, judiciously stationed at the entrances of our ports, might at small expense be made useful sentinels of the laws. The Federalist author and father of the future Coast Guard recognized the value that these vessels could bring to an emerging new nation. That value remains true today, although the responsibilities and duties for our modern Coast Guard have grown far beyond the fleet s early days. On May 18, the Senate Commerce Committee passed a reauthorization bill to ensure the Coast Guard can continue to fulfill these responsibilities and duties. The legislation, which I support, would authorize Coast Guard funding for the next two fiscal years, paving the way for new national security cutters and strengthening efforts to fight illicit drug trafficking and smuggling. When it comes to border security, the Coast Guard is on the front lines of our defense.

Mississippi contributes to the Coast Guard s success, with shipbuilders at Huntington Ingalls in Pascagoula constructing the fleet s state-of-the-art national security cutters. Under the Coast Guard Authorization Act, multiyear funding would help reduce costs over time and offer crucial predictability to our nation s shipyards and our shipbuilding workforce. Predictability is important for shipbuilders, and it is important to those operating commercial vessels along our shores. To help foster greater regulatory certainty, I introduced the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act earlier this year, which would create a uniform but rigorous standard that the Coast Guard could enforce for ballast water and other vessel discharges. Right now, there are overlapping standards for commercial vessels from two federal agencies and 25 states. I am pleased the Commerce Committee has included my legislation in the reauthorization of the Coast Guard. A scientifically attainable national standard would be a needed step toward consistency and simplicity. It would also eliminate unnecessary costs on vessel operators, who have to install equipment to meet multiple standards or incur state fines.

Alongside our Coast Guard, the work of the U.S. Merchant Marine is critical to national security and trade. Serving as the crew on civilian ships, merchant mariners work to keep U.S. commerce strong. They are also ready to assist with national defense in times of war or emergency, providing military transportation needs when necessary.

As a congressional member of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy s Board of Visitors, I am committed to ensuring that our future mariners are prepared for their service. This includes the continued success of the Sea Year training program. The long-running and esteemed Sea Year program allows students to gain experience working on U.S.-flagged commercial ships. I remain engaged with the Maritime Administration and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to restore the Sea Year program to full capacity following its suspension and reinstatement over the past year.

Alexander Hamilton may not have envisioned the scope of the maritime traffic around our shores today, but his words are prudent even centuries later. With a coastline that stretches tens of thousands of miles and maritime commerce contributing tens of billions of dollars to the economy, America needs a reliable and capable Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.

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