Senate Passes Critical Coast Guard Bill
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Posted by: William Higgins
Earlier this month, the Senate passed U.S. Coast Guard funding reauthorization legislation. The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017 (S. 1129). The bill is a priority for the recreational boating industry as it includes provisions regarding boating safety, boat registrations, and environmental protections. Speaking on the importance of the Coast Guard reauthorization, Senate President Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor:
“First on the list is legislation that will reauthorize funding for our Coast Guard and implement a number of important reforms. Our nation calls on the Coast Guard to protect America’s ports and maintain shipping lanes, to interdict illegal drugs before they reach the border, and to risk their lives to save others in the midst of fierce storms and natural disasters. In each case, they embody their motto. ‘Semper Paratus.’ Always ready.
“So in passing these measures this week, the Senate will be fulfilling an important promise to some of the brave men and women who have taken an oath to keep us safe. Aspects of this legislation are particularly important to states like my home state of Kentucky – the heart of our nation’s inland waterways system.
“For too long, vessel owners and barge operators have struggled under a complex system of overlapping and duplicative regulations. They make normal shipping functions needlessly difficult, including the incidental discharge of ballast water. A confusing web of rules from states, the Coast Guard, and the EPA leave owners and operators to face constant uncertainty -- and lead to higher costs.
“The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, or VIDA, replaces the existing system with a uniform, cost-effective, and national standard enforced by the Coast Guard. For the 13,000 Kentuckians whose jobs depend on our state’s inland waterways, this provision can help cut costs, promote efficiency, and protect our natural waters.
“And for the countless farmers, miners, and manufacturers who depend on these waters to get their goods to market, VIDA ends the headache and delivers relief. VIDA passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee on a voice vote. In fact, it’s been reported out of committee numerous times in recent years – including when our Democratic colleagues were in charge.
“So it’s time to pass this bipartisan bill. It’s time to help the Coast Guard continue its important work. And it’s time to deliver much-needed predictability to the mariners we rely on.
To read the complete press release, click here.
If you have questions, please contact MRAA Public Policy Manager, Will Higgins.