H.R. 905 modified the boundary of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve in Lake Huron off the coast of Michigan. The existing boundaries of the sanctuary currently contain more than 100 nationally significant historic shipwrecks. This was a vote on passage of the bill expanding the boundaries of the sanctuary to include more than 100 additional shipwrecks. This expansion would put these other shipwrecks under the protection, research, education and public outreach capabilities of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
Rep. Bordallo (D-Guam), who was leading support for H.R. 905, referred to it as “bipartisan legislation”. Two of the four sponsors of the bill were Republican congressman from Michigan. Bardallo called the sanctuary a federal-state partnership with a unique focus on preserving the large collection of underwater cultural resources. She argued that, “(B)y authorizing an expansion of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the affected local communities would receive the benefits of having additional historical resources highlighted and preserved, as well as increased tourism, which is an important driver for economic growth of this part of northeastern lower Michigan.” According to her, the bill was “strongly supported by the Obama Administration, the State of Michigan, the affected counties, the communities, the local chambers of commerce, and the Thunder Bay Sanctuary Advisory Council.”
Rep. Wittman (R-VA), speaking for the Republicans, noted that there “have been concerns voiced on this side of the aisle about the potential increased costs of this boundary expansion that expands the current sanctuary by almost nine times its current size. While the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is entirely within the waters of the State of Michigan, concern has been raised that the cost of this expansion and any future needs will fall on the federal government. Not only will this increase the federal costs for managing the resources that are entirely within state waters, but it could also have a negative effect on the other national marine sanctuaries.”
The legislation passed by a vote of 286-107. Two hundred and twenty-eight Democrats and fifty-eight Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and five Republicans and two Democrats voted “nay” As a result, the House approved and sent on to the Senate the bill expanding the boundary of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve.