Washington, D.C. – Today, leaders of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure applauded House passage of the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020, as well as legislation reauthorizing and supporting Maritime Administration programs. After the completion of bicameral conference negotiations, the bills were included in the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 6395, the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which, having cleared the House, now moves to the Senate.
The Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Act of 2020 was named in honor of the Committee’s former Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chair, who passed away in 2019. The legislation reauthorizes the Coast Guard and Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), and includes increased authorized funding for the U.S. Coast Guard at $11.9 billion for Fiscal Year 2021. This increase will allow the U.S. Coast Guard to procure new Polar Security Cutters to replace the one remaining heavy icebreaker, acquire four additional Fast Response Cutters, and address the nearly $2 billion backlog of its shore infrastructure and facility maintenance needs. The legislation also enhances vessel safety by including reforms identified by the National Transportation Safety Board, authorizes new family leave and childcare policies, and supports increased gender and racial diversity in the Coast Guard Academy and within the ranks.
The provisions related to the Maritime Administration include reauthorization of MARAD programs, as well as the first-ever authority enabling MARAD to provide financial assistance to the U.S. Maritime Transportation System in the event of a national emergency or disaster such as the current COVID-19 public health emergency. Provisions also support recruitment, training and retention related to merchant mariners, support for projects at smaller and inland ports and terminals, and the establishment of a National Shipper Advisory Committee to, among other things, ensure U.S. competitiveness in the international ocean freight delivery system.
“I am thankful to my House colleagues for once again stepping up to support the hardworking men and women of the United States Coast Guard as well as the maritime sector,” Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said. “I am also thankful to my partners on the Committee, including Ranking Member Graves, Subcommittee Chair Maloney, and Subcommittee Ranking Members Gibbs who helped develop this important legislation to make sure Congress is responsive to the needs of those who keep our shorelines safe and our economy moving. I’m especially proud that we’re able to honor my dear friend and former Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chair Elijah Cummings by not only naming the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act after him, but also building on his long-time efforts to improve diversity and inclusion among the ranks of the Coast Guard.”
“The Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act included in the NDAA provides critical support to the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out its missions to protect our maritime borders, ensure the safety of mariners, stem the influx of illegal drugs and migrants into the country, and facilitate waterborne commerce. In particular, I am pleased this bill provides resources necessary for the construction of new cutters, the support for the men and women who carry out the Service’s many missions, and acquisitions for important infrastructure improvements,” Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Sam Graves (R-MO) said. “The bill also authorizes funds for the FMC and creates a new FMC National Shipper Advisory Committee to let U.S. exporters, including important agricultural exporters, advise on issues of importance to those groups. In addition, the bill authorizes funds for the Maritime Administration, including for a small inland port and terminal grant program and a new program for emergency relief to keep the maritime transportation system running. I served with Elijah Cummings on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for many years, and I’m pleased this authorization is named after him in honor of the work he did on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee.”
“I am proud of the work we did on the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Act and I’m glad it is a part of this year’s NDAA,” Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) said. “This bipartisan bill will give the brave men and women of our Coast Guard the tools and resources needed to continue protecting our ports, waterways and coasts, perform life-saving search and rescue missions, and interdict drugs before they reach our shores. This reauthorization contains so many priorities of this Committee, and honors the late Chairman Cummings by advancing policies that strengthen and protect our Coasties and the maritime industry during this pandemic. This bill will also ensure the Coast Guard is a more inclusive branch of our Armed Forces.”
“The Coast Guard plays such a unique and important role in our national security. They provide critical support for our military and work tirelessly to keep our nation’s coastal borders safe and secure. That dual-role mission is why the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act was included in the NDAA. It provides needed changes to personnel and equipment requirements for our Coasties. The NDAA also reauthorizes MARAD programs important to maritime transportation’s civilian and defense-related activities while also strengthening assistance to small inland ports and terminals. Additionally, the creation of a National Shipper Advisory Council will give U.S. exporters, particularly those in the agriculture industry, a voice at the FMC,” Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Guard and Maritime Transportation Bob Gibbs (R-OH) said. “I had the privilege of serving with Elijah Cummings on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and on Oversight and Reform when he served as Committee Chairman. Naming the Coast Guard bill after Elijah is an appropriate honor for his hard work during two terms as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.”