T&I Committee Leaders Introduce Bipartisan Coast Guard Authorization Bill
The leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee today introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen, support, and authorize funding for the United States Coast Guard, one of the Nation’s six armed services, for its critical missions to safeguard the Nation’s borders, facilitate maritime commerce, and ensure maritime safety.
The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2023 authorizes appropriations for the Service for the next two fiscal years at fiscal year 2023 levels, plus inflation. These authorizations will support Coast Guard operations and enable the Service to continue to recapitalize its historically underfunded cutter fleet, shoreside facilities, and IT capabilities.
“The men and women of the Coast Guard risk their lives every day to protect our Nation and the lives of those at sea. From assuring the safety of maritime trade through the supply chain crisis, to helping counter undue Chinese influence in the Pacific, to helping to develop the United States’ redefined role in the rapidly changing Arctic, to stemming the human trafficking and influx of illicit drugs into the country, the Coast Guard is challenged with an ever-growing mission set and no growth in their physical infrastructure assets. Our bill ensures the Coast Guard will have the resources and assets necessary to carry out these and its other critical missions,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO).
“The women and men of the Coast Guard conduct search and rescue operations at sea, prevent the shipment of drugs across our maritime borders, and protect U.S. sovereignty in the Arctic and across the world. Congress must do more to support our Coast Guard members, and I am proud to introduce a bipartisan bill today that will improve housing, childcare, and the facilities where Coasties work,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA).
“The United States Coast Guard plays a vital role in protecting our coasts, securing maritime trade by protecting our ports and waterways, responding to emergencies and disasters, and countless other missions. But recruitment challenges and insufficient budgets have stretched the Coast Guard thin at a time its services are at an ever-increasing demand. The bipartisan Coast Guard Authorization Act will provide the resources needed to help with readiness and the Service’s ability to carry out and meet its missions,” said Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Webster (R-FL).
“Every single day, the Coast Guard goes to work on the broad range of missions that keep our nation and its citizens safe. They mind the safety of our seas and the security of our waters, protect our seafarers and our beachgoers, and reinforce our national defense. And as the top Democrat on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, I’m proud to once again help lead bipartisan legislation that will have the back of our Coast Guard – providing the resources it needs to complete these missions, support infrastructure and safety upgrades, and improve the quality of life for our Coasties,” said Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Ranking Member Salud Carbajal (D-CA).
Important Coast Guard activities supported by this legislation include defense readiness, including operating as a specialized service in the Navy in times of war or when directed by the President; enforcement of Federal laws on the high seas and waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction; illegal drug interdiction and stopping human trafficking; port and coastal security; icebreaking activities and support of increasing levels of maritime transportation in the Artic; search and rescue; maintenance of aids-to-navigation; marine environmental protection; and oil spill prevention and response.
In particular, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2023 authorizes additional air and sea assets for the Coast Guard, including four additional Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) and one missionized HC-130J aircraft: proven assets that will support the Service’s efforts to meet its many missions. The bill also provides additional support to enable the Coast Guard to address recruiting and manpower challenges. In addition, the bill makes changes to maritime safety laws and amends requirements for merchant mariner credentials to facilitate an increase in the pool of qualified U.S. merchant mariners.