Commerce Committee Leaders Introduce Coast Guard Reauthorization

May 16, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, today introduced S. 1129, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the chairman and ranking member of the full Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, are co-sponsors of the legislation.

“Funding the Coast Guard is key to keeping Americans safe and protecting our borders,” said Thune. “At the Commerce Committee, we worked hard to craft this life-saving legislation and I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill with my colleagues. I look forward to advancing the bill at our full committee’s markup on Thursday.”

“This bill will help the Coast Guard get the funding and support it needs to modernize its fleet,” said Nelson. “Replacing the Coast Guard’s aging cutters, many of which were built before man walked on the moon and are vital for search and rescue and law enforcement missions, is long overdue.”

“I am happy to have the opportunity to lead this effort in the Senate. Alaskans know the important work done by the U.S. Coast Guard, which stands as the first line of defense, rescue and crisis response on our state’s more than 33,000 miles of coastline,” said Sullivan. “The legislation will give the Coast Guard the resources it needs to protect our shores, block illegal traffickers and smugglers, and more efficiently procure future cutters. Lastly, the bill includes a provision directing the Coast Guard to assess its needs to operate in the Arctic, an emerging region with great potential for America’s interests.”

Highlights of S. 1129 that would reauthorize the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal years 2018-2019 include:

•    Maritime drug and border enforcement – Title IV includes new authorities to combat illicit trafficking and smuggling and transnational criminal organizations by furthering interagency cooperation, combating concealment of bulk cash, and increasing the budget for investigations by authorizing up to $250,000 in appropriate cases to pay informants.

•    Multiyear contracting – Sec. 211 authorizes the Coast Guard Commandant to utilize multiyear funding for procuring future National Security Cutters.  This change will allow the Coast Guard to reduce the price of follow-on vessels and give shipyards greater predictability, stabilizing workforces.

•    Authorization level – Sec. 101 authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 at $9.2 billion and $9.6 billion. The previous Coast Guard authorization, enacted in 2016, authorized $9.1 billion for the service for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

•    Arctic Operations – Sec. 405 directs the Coast Guard to conduct a review of the assets and personnel required to ensure the safety and security of the Arctic.

•    Recreational Boating – Title III increases safety and clarifies requirements for recreational boating safety by implementing the use of engine cut-off switches and alternate signaling devices

Click here for the text of S. 1129, which the full Commerce Committee is scheduled to consider at its markup on Thursday, May 18.