Sen. Nelson applauds vote to give service more resources
The United States Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation to increase funding for the Coast Guard by a 94 to 6 vote today.
The legislation authorizes roughly $10.6 billion for the Coast Guard in fiscal year 2019 – a 16 percent increase compared to 2017.
“This is a good bill and one we can be proud of,” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said in a floor speechTuesday. “Passing it will ensure the Coast Guard has the tools it needs to continue to carry out its many important missions, including its maritime rescue, disaster response and drug interdiction roles so many Americans have come to depend on.”
Nelson, who co-authored the legislation, also praised the Coast Guard for its recent rescue and disaster relief efforts in Florida.
“Just last month I saw firsthand the Coast Guard’s efforts in protecting life and property following Hurricane Michael. Coast Guard ships, planes and helicopters came from across the country to help hundreds of people on the Florida Panhandle. The Coast Guard, as always, was there to assist,” he added.
In addition to the funding increase, the legislation would, among other things:
- Strengthen the Coast Guard’s maritime drug and border enforcement roles by bolstering interagency cooperation, enhancing the service’s ability to find and seize concealments of bulk cash and allowing the increased use of informants.
- Enhance the Coast Guard’s efforts to place and perform maintenance on navigational aids.
- Allow the Coast Guard to enter into less costly multi-year contracts for purchasing future National Security Cutters.
- Improve safety and flexibility for recreational boaters by promoting the installation of engine cut-off switches and alternate signaling devices.
- Require the EPA to establish uniform national standards and requirements for treatment and management of ballast water and other vessel discharges. Accommodations will be made for unique regional situations, such as the Great Lakes and Pacific coast. States will also be allowed to create no-discharge zones for areas requiring additional protection.
- Direct the Coast Guard to monitor and enforce requirements governing discharges incidental to the normal operation of vessels.
- Give commanding officers flexibility to grant leave for new parents.
The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration where it’s expected to pass before the end of the year.