Commerce Leaders Applaud House Passage of Bipartisan Coast Guard Authorization

November 27, 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which exercises jurisdiction over the U.S. Coast Guard, Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and the Coast Guard, and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the sponsor of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act included within the reauthorization, issued the following statement on tonight’s House vote passing S. 140, The Frank Lobiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018.  

“Now on its way to President Trump for his signature, this bill offers the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard support to enhance and continue search and rescue, storm response, and critical maritime interdiction missions,” said Thune. “I credit my colleagues on the committee as well as Sens. Carper, Portman, and Stabenow for their help in getting this important legislation across the finish line.”

“The brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard do an amazing job protecting the homeland day in and day out and often on a moment’s notice,” said Sullivan“Working closely with Chairman Thune and Senator Wicker, I was honored to have had the opportunity to lead this year’s Coast Guard Authorization, giving our Coast Guard the resources and training they need to complete the many diverse missions they are tasked with. I thank my House colleagues for swiftly moving this bipartisan bill on to the President’s desk for his signature. Semper Paratus!”

“Sending this bill to the President’s desk is a win not only for the U.S. Coast Guard, but also for our national security, economy, and environment. I am particularly pleased this bill simplifies the patchwork of regulations regarding a vessel’s ballast water discharge by adopting key provisions of my Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act. I appreciate the hard work of Chairman Thune, Senator Sullivan, and so many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bill across the finish line,” said Wicker.

Highlights of S. 140: The Frank Lobiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018:

Maritime drug and border enforcement – 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 and ability to use informants.

Multiyear contracting – authorizes the Coast Guard Commandant to utilize several new acquisition tools, including multiyear funding for procuring future National Security Cutters.  These changes will allow the Coast Guard to reduce the price of follow-on vessels and give shipyards greater predictability, stabilizing workforces.

Authorization level – authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal year 2019 at $10.6 billion.

Arctic Operations – 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 – increases safety and clarifies requirements for recreational boating safety by implementing the installation of engine cut-off switches and alternate signaling devices.

Regulation of ballast water discharges (Vessel Incidental Discharge Act):

  • Delegates the lead role in establishing standards for discharges incidental to the normal operation of a vessel to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and assigns the Coast Guard the lead role in monitoring and enforcing standards.
  • Accommodates unique regional situations.  Pacific Coast ballast water exchanges will continue and the Great Lakes may set their own basin-wide standards.
  • Allows States to establish no-discharge zones for areas that require additional protection.

The Senate passed S. 140, as amended on November 14. Read the full text of S. 140 here.