Committee Approves Coast Guard Authorization Through 2021

July 31, 2019

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today approved the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019, authorizing appropriations for Coast Guard operations and programs through Fiscal Year 2021. In addition, the committee approved the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2019, which would reauthorize the Department of Transportation’s pipeline safety program administered by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Security, provided the following statements on the committee’s approval of the Coast Guard Reauthorization:

“The Coast Guard is a vital part of our nation’s military,” said Wicker. “This bill would authorize funding for this critical component of our national security through 2021, bolster its recruiting, retention, and childcare programs, and improve the competitiveness of America’s maritime industry. Additionally, the legislation would guarantee that Coast Guard men and women continue to receive their pay in the event of a government shutdown alongside our other military services. I appreciate Ranking Member Cantwell, Senator Sullivan, and Senator Markey for their hard work on this legislation.”

“In the state of Washington, we have a proud maritime heritage, so the Coast Guard is an integral part of our community,” Cantwell said. “This legislation moves the ball forward on important priorities for the men and women that work for the Coast Guard.”

“I’m honored to have led the effort on this year’s Coast Guard reauthorization, supporting members of the fifth branch of our military who are far too often overlooked or forgotten,” said  Sullivan. “With this legislation, we will ensure that Coast Guardsmen never again are risking their lives and serving without pay – as they were during the partial government shutdown earlier this year. We will also ensure that the Coast Guard has the resources it needs to fulfill its wide range of missions, including search and rescue, icebreaking, marine environment protection, port security, crisis response, and protecting America’s national security interests in the Arctic region.”

“This bill makes tremendous progress toward meeting the Coast Guard’s needs to remain Semper Paratus for 21st century challenges,” said Senator Markey. “I want to thank Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Cantwell for their leadership on this bipartisan bill.”

Bills considered are as follows (approved by voice vote unless otherwise noted):

1. S. 2297, Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2019, Sponsor: Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
a. Sullivan Managers
b. Baldwin 1 (as modified)
c. Cruz 1
d. Cruz 2
e. Cruz 3
f. Cruz 4
g. Cruz 5
h. Cruz 6
i. Cruz 7
j. Blumenthal 1
k. Blumenthal 2 (as modified)
l. Blumenthal 4 (as modified)
m. Blumenthal 5 (as modified)
n. Lee 3 (as modified)
o. Lee 5 (as modified)
p. Lee 6
q. Lee 10 (as modified)
r. Markey 1
s. Peters 1 (as modified)
t. Scott 1 (as modified)
u. Scott 2
v. Scott 3
w. Sullivan 1
x. Young 1

Highlights of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act for fiscal year 2021:

  • Protects Coast Guard members and their families from financial hardship in a future lapse of appropriations. 
  • Helps the Coast Guard recruit and retain a 21st century workforce through a number of reforms including temporary promotion authority for officers with high-demand, temporary separation program to allow professional development in the private sector, and direct commissioning authority for individuals with critical skills.
  • Directs regular assessments of available unmanned maritime systems for potential use for Coast Guard support missions. 
  • Requires the Commandant to establish a testing area for the development, training, and testing of unmanned aircraft systems for the Coast Guard.

2. S. 2299, Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2019, Sponsors: Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
a. Udall 2

Highlights of the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2019:

  • Provides a four-year authorization of PHMSA’s pipeline safety program with greater resources allocated to state and local pipeline safety officials.
  • Allows PHMSA to conduct pilot programs to evaluate innovative pipeline safety technologies to enhance pipeline safety.
  • Provides greater Congressional oversight on pending PHMSA rulemakings.
  • Directs PHMSA to update its current regulations for large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities.
  • Establishes LNG Center of Excellence to promote and facilitate safety, education, training, and technological advancements for LNG operations.