Press Releases

T&I Leaders Introduce New Coast Guard Authorization Bill

Includes Coast Guard Protection and Accountability Act

Washington, D.C., March 13, 2024 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446
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The leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee today introduced new 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 2024 was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA), Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Webster (R-FL), and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Ranking Member Salud Carbajal (D-CA).

Today’s bill includes new and updated provisions since last year’s introduction and Committee passage of Coast Guard authorization legislation.  Among the new provisions in today’s introduced bill is the addition of the bipartisan Coast Guard Protection and Accountability Act of 2024, legislation that was introduced on March 3, 2024, to strengthen protections for members of the Coast Guard from sexual assault and harassment and to ensure accountability and transparency in the Coast Guard following the Committee’s investigation of the Service’s Operation Fouled Anchor (OFA). 

“The Coast Guard plays a critical role in protecting our borders, stemming human trafficking and the influx of illicit drugs into the country, safeguarding the lives of mariners and maritime commerce, and more,” said T&I Committee Chairman Graves.  “This bill not only ensures the Coast Guard will have the resources and assets necessary to carry out its missions, it also provides much-needed protections from sexual misconduct for Coast Guard servicemembers and cadets, on par with the Nation’s other armed services.”

“The demands on the Coast Guard continue to grow as the climate crisis and global security threats challenge the maritime industry and Arctic,” said T&I Committee Ranking Member Larsen.  “Congress must support the Service so it can remain mission ready in the face of these challenges.  This bipartisan bill will provide the resources needed to bolster Coast Guard capabilities at sea and shoreside, and improve the lives of servicemembers by investing in housing, childcare, and the facilities where they work.  Importantly, the bill holds the Coast Guard accountable for its sexual assault and harassment mitigation and prevention efforts.”

“Despite the Biden Administration’s failure to seek the appropriate investments needed to maintain the Coast Guard’s mission capabilities, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024 authorizes the necessary resources the men and women of the Coast Guard require to complete their critical missions.  This includes authorization to acquire additional surface and air assets, as well as resources to begin replacing the Service’s crumbling shoreside infrastructure,” said Subcommittee Chairman Webster.  “I am also pleased that this legislation incorporates the Coast Guard Protection and Accountability Act of 2024 that Ranking Member Carbajal and I introduced, which strengthens protections for members of the Coast Guard from sexual assault and harassment and increases transparency within the Service.  I appreciate Chairman Graves, Ranking Member Larsen, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Carbajal for their work on this important bipartisan legislation.”

“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,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Carbajal.  “And as the top Democrat on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, I’m proud to further our committee’s tradition of crafting 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.  And in addition to these important investments, this bill also reaffirms our bipartisan commitment to holding the Coast Guard accountable for reforms needed to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassments from its ranks.”

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024 authorizes appropriations for the Service for fiscal years 2025 and 2026.  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.

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 Arctic; 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 2024 authorizes additional air and sea assets for the Coast Guard, including two Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), a Polar Security Cutter (PSC), missionized HC-130J aircraft, and MH-60T Jayhawk aircraft: 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.  It authorizes investments in the Service’s crumbling shoreside infrastructure, including its sole enlisted accession source, Training Center Cape May New Jersey, and sole Officer accession source at its Academy in New London, Connecticut.  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.

In order to better protect its Service members from sexual assault and harassment, the bill ensures the Coast Guard enacts recommendations from the Service’s own Accountability and Transparency Review, as ordered by the current Commandant, and abides by increased standards of accountability.  It also requires the Coast Guard to provide an annual report to Congress for each of the next three years outlining the Service’s implementation of efforts outlined in the Accountability and Transparency Review.

Click here to read the bill text.

Click here to read a section by section summary.

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