Senate Passes Coast Guard Reauthorization

December 18, 2015

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate passed by voice vote H.R. 4188, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015. As modified by the Senate, the bill includes provisions from H.R. 1987 approved by voice vote in the House of Representatives on May 18, 2015, and S. 1611, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on June 25, 2015. The reauthorization will fund the Coast Guard for two years.
U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who respectively serve as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation with jurisdiction over the U.S. Coast Guard, provided the following statements on Senate passage of the reauthorization:

“This bill supports keeping America safe,” said Thune. “On a bipartisan basis, we have worked together to give the brave men and women who serve in the Coast Guard the tools they need to do their jobs and protect our shores."
“Ensuring the Coast Guard is properly equipped is a matter of national security,” said Nelson. “This bill will bolster their efforts to keep mariners safe and our waters secure from terrorists and drug smugglers.”
Highlights of the bill to reauthorize the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal years 2016-2017:
Maritime drug enforcement – Sec. 314 includes new authorities to combat illicit trafficking and smuggling and transnational criminal organizations, including those active in the Caribbean Basin. The section criminalizes concealment of bulk cash proceeds of $100,000 or more on smugglers' vessels that are subject to U.S. maritime law.
Polar icebreaker – Sec. 207 authorizes the Coast Guard Commandant to utilize incremental funding as a strategy for any potential future acquisition of a polar icebreaker.  This would allow the Coast Guard to spread the cost of such a vessel over multiple fiscal years and reduce its overall impact on the Coast Guard’s acquisition budget.  Incremental funding has previously been used by the U.S. Navy during the acquisition of aircraft carriers, assault ships, and destroyers. U.S. polar ice breakers have traditionally operated in the Arctic Ocean which has witnessed an increased amount of commercial seafaring vessels.
Provides authorization – Authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 at $9.1 billion.
Federal Maritime Commission – Title IV reauthorizes the Federal Maritime Commission at current funding levels while providing increased accountability at the Commission by ensuring all Commissioners have the opportunity to review hiring decisions and budget submissions.

 Click here for the bill text.