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September 13, 2022 3:10 PM, EDT

Senators Introduce Coast Guard Policy Bill

Coast GuardA U.S. Coast Guard boat patrolling on the Hudson river between New York and New Jersey. (gridcaha/Getty Images)

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Senate Commerce Committee leaders recently introduced a Coast Guard authorizing bill that would dedicate funds for shoreline modernization programs.

The legislation, which would reauthorize operations at the Coast Guard for fiscal 2022 and 2023, aims to improve connectivity along major corridors. Specifically, it would approve $3 billion for infrastructure repairs and upgrades. Additionally, the Coast Guard’s leadership would be required to report to Congress annually on its shoreside infrastructure projects backlog.



Infrastructure construction, maintenance and repair projects would include facilities at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore and child care development centers. It also would prioritize recruitment and training for the Coast Guard’s workforce.

“The Coast Guard keeps our maritime economy moving and our ports and waterways secure. This bill makes the investments needed to support that core mission, and will also help the Coast Guard crack down on illegal fishing, improve oil spill response and bolster our nation’s presence in the Arctic,” said committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) on Sept. 8.

Sen. Maria Cantwell

Cantwell

Added the chairwoman: “The bill also invests in the Coast Guard’s most valuable resource: its people. We must expand training and education opportunities for Coasties and improve housing, child care and medical services so that the Coast Guard can recruit and retain a cutting-edge and diverse workforce.”

“The American people depend on the U.S. Coast Guard now more than ever,” added Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the panel’s ranking member. “The Coast Guard can always be counted on to save American lives, protect our homeland, and keep maritime transportation flowing safely, but it is time we do better for our service members.”

“This bill would take a major step toward addressing needs such as deteriorating buildings, outdated equipment and a lack of adequate funding,” Wicker continued.

Roger Wicker

Wicker

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), chairwoman of the Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change, and Manufacturing Subcommittee, emphasized, “Inadequate ice-breaking capacity in the Great Lakes costs us thousands of American jobs and millions in business revenue, and this bipartisan legislation invests in the ice-breaking resources needed to support our maritime industry and our Made in America economy.”

“This critical legislation will help mitigate devastating climate-related events, invest in climate resilient Coast Guard infrastructure at places like Sturgeon Bay and will increase support for child care, housing and education needed to do right by our service members and veterans,” Baldwin added.

The legislation was referred to its committee of jurisdiction. The bill’s consideration is scheduled for this month.

In July, the House passed an update of Coast Guard operations. That legislation would approve modernization operations and shoreside and cyber-infrastructure projects. At the time of its passage, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said: “Our bill will help the Coast Guard keep our coastal communities safe, support our ports and waterways, protect our marine environment, fight drug trafficking, and respond quickly to dangerous emergencies and disasters. Importantly, this bill also includes provisions from the Safer Seas Act, which takes necessary steps toward eliminating sexual violence in the maritime industry and better protecting survivors.”

Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.) added, “In tandem with our defense policy bill that includes critical support for our service members and military families, our bipartisan measure makes sure we have the backs of the Coasties who wake up every day with a broad range of critical missions that keep our seas and shores safe.”

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