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Senators introduce coast guard policy bill

A Coast Guard authorizing bill has been introduced by the Senate Commerce Committee that would commit funds for shoreline modernization programs. The legislation seeks to enhance connectivity in important corridors by renewing Coast Guard operations for the fiscal years 2022 and 2023. This bill would approve a billion-dollar budget to invest in infrastructure repairs and upgrades and the Coast Guard’s leadership would be required to report to Congress on an annual basis.

Transport Topics reported, “Infrastructure construction, maintenance and repair projects would include facilities at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore and child care development centers.” It would also prioritize recruitment and training for the Coast Guard. “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. She added, “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, childcare and medical services so that the Coast Guard can recruit and retain a cutting-edge and diverse workforce.”

The Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change, and Manufacturing Subcommittee Chair, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), 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 childcare, housing and education needed to do right by our service members and veterans,” Baldwin added. The bill’s consideration is scheduled for this month. The House had passed an update in July for the operations of the Coast Guard that approved modernization operations and shoreside and cyber-infrastructure projects. When it did pass, the 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.” There would also be support provided to service members and military families.