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OCTOBER 8, 2002

Statement of the Honorable Duncan Hunter before the Special Oversight Panel on the Merchant Marine, House Armed Services Committee, October 8, 2002

This hearing will come to order.

My opening remarks will be brief. However, before we address the business before this panel---consideration of the military's commercial sealift requirements under a new Maritime Security Program, I would like to extend a warm welcome to our witness today; General John Handy, Commander in Chief, the United States Transportation Command. Welcome General Handy.

This is the third in a series of hearings being held by this panel that will lead up to a reauthorization of a new Maritime Security Program. At the first hearing, the panel heard from current vessel operators as well as the so-called "section 2 citizens". Frankly, I think many of us learned a great deal at that hearing. At some point, I am convinced that we will come up with a legislative solution that will address some of the issues raised at that hearing.

At the second hearing, we heard from witnesses representing both large and small shipbuilding interests. Since that hearing, I have started to see some creative financing proposals that offer us a realistic opportunity to have a shipbuilding component in any new MSP reauthorization. My personal view is that we can reach agreement on a shipbuilding component without jeopardizing the operational component of a new bill.

After hearing from General Handy today on DOD's MSP sealift requirements, I will ask the Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration to appear before us and present their proposal for a reauthorization of the MSP. Just a important as their appearance and legislative suggestions will be their commitment to pursue funding for a in this upcoming fiscal year.


It is my goal, after working with and getting the agreement of the other members of this panel, to have a comprehensive legislative proposal ready for markup early next year and to attach it to the FY'04 Defense Authorization bill.

Before I recognize our witness, I would like to recognize the

distinguished ranking member of this panel, the Honorable Tom Allen of

Maine for any statement he might wish to make.

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