Cantwell on Wins for Women in the Coast Guard Bill: “A Major Step Forward”

July 31, 2019

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today lauded the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019 for its commitment not only to Coast Guard women but to the children and families of women who serve our country.

“The bill also helps in the recruitment, retainment, and investment in women in the Coast Guard workforce,” Senator Cantwell said. “Even though the Coast Guard Academy is almost 40 percent women, the Coast Guard as a whole is only 15 percent, so we need to invest in recruiting and keeping this talent, and this bill will help take a major step forward. Also, the bill invests in vital child care facilities for the Coast Guard, and we so appreciate working across the aisle to make this part of the legislation.”

Ranking Member Cantwell’s legislation makes significant improvements to the services needed to recruit, retain and invest in women in the Coast Guard workforce, addressing the significant problems retaining skilled female Coasties indicated by the statistics on women in the service.

The bill takes aim at this issue by improving access to child care for Coast Guard members and their families. The legislation includes a pilot program to expand access to child care, a comprehensive study on Coast Guard child care needs, and expanded opportunities for Coast Guard spouses to start their own in-home child care centers.

The bill also ensures timely and full implementation of the RAND Coast Guard Women’s Retention Study. This section of the bill would require the establishment of a National Coast Guard Women’s Leadership Committee to advise the Commandant on the RAND study implementation plan and on women’s issues at large. It would also create an Advisory Committee on Women’s Leadership at the Coast Guard Academy to reach women early in their Coast Guard Careers and improve their access to leadership training, mentorship, and engagement.

Taking care of Coast Guard members and their families has been a long-term priority for Senator Cantwell. In 2015, she passed an amendment to the Coast Guard authorization to make sure Coast Guard mothers received the same amount of maternity leave as their counterparts in other branches. In 2017, she wrote a letter to the then-Coast Guard Commandant advocating for an expansion of family leave policies to include benefits for same-sex couples, dual military couples, and adoptive parents. And in last year’s Coast Guard authorization, she secured provisions to strengthen paid family leave for Coast Guard members and their families.