The Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Act of 2020 has passed the House, along with legislation reauthorizing and supporting Maritime Administration programs and now moves to the Senate.
The legislation, named in honor of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, former chair of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, reauthorizes the Coast Guard and Federal Maritime Commission. The legislation includes increased authorized funding for the Coast Guard at $11.9 billion for fiscal year 2021, which will allow the Coast Guard to procure the new Polar Security Cutters to replace the one remaining heavy icebreaker, acquire four more Fast Response Cutters and access the nearly $2 billion backlog of the Coast Guard’s shore infrastructure and facility maintenance needs. The legislation further 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 at the Coast Guard Academy and within the ranks.
Provisions with the legislation related to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) include reauthorization of MARAD programs 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 establishment of a National Shipper Advisory Committee to ensure U.S. competitiveness in the international ocean freight delivery system.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, said he is especially proud that the House is honoring the late 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 Coast Guard ranks.