Commerce Advances Sullivan’s Coast Guard Reauthorization

Bill Fixes Pay Lapse for Coast Guardsmen During Gov’t Shutdowns

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee today advanced the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019, legislation authored and introduced by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), authorizing appropriations for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) for fiscal years 2020 through 2021, including an increase of $1.4 billion. 

Senator Sullivan’s 2019 reauthorization aims to ensure the Coast Guard can carry out vessel capitalization and infrastructure development, and support its range of missions, including maritime safety, drug and illegal migrant interdiction, U.S. laws at sea enforcement, protection of our nation’s borders, and support for Department of Defense operations.  

“Earlier this year, we saw the unconscionable situation of our brave Coast Guardsmen—who put their lives on the line every day—working without pay during the partial government shutdown,” said Senator Sullivan. “At the time, I introduced and fought for the passage of the ‘Pay Our Coast Guard Act,’ which, sadly, was held up by Senate Democratic leadership. With today’s committee passage of my Coast Guard reauthorization, including language to establish greater parity between the branches, we are one step closer to never facing such neglect of our Coast Guardsmen again.” 

Senator Sullivan also addressed the significant Arctic focus of his 2019 reauthorization.  

“I appreciate the bipartisan awakening to our nation’s strong interest in the Arctic, and the important role the Coast Guard plays in enforcing our laws and protecting American sovereignty in the region,” Senator Sullivan added. “My legislation will give the Coast Guard the resources and direction needed to focus on the strategic importance of our national security interests in the Arctic.” 

Among the provisions important to Alaska, Senator Sullivan’s Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019:

  • Directs the Coast Guard to procure no less than three heavy and three medium polar security cutters (ice breakers), and authorizes $745 million each for three heavy polar security cutters. 
  • Authorizes $650 million for construction of the twelfth National Security Cutter.
  • Directs the USCG to prioritize missions and capability development in the Arctic.
  • Streamlines the maintenance and repair of USCG vessels in District 17 (Alaska).
  • Directs the USCG to report to Congress on the need for search-and-rescue support for Arctic communities. 
  • Provides regulatory certainty for commercial fishing vessels from onerous, unenforced regulations. 
  • Provides relief for the Alaska fishing and hunting guide operations from one-size-fits-all regulations that have stymied their ability to hire and train locally.
  • Clears up the conveyance of USCG property at Point Spencer.
  • Provides increased federal funds for fishing safety training and research grants.
  • Expands use of unmanned aircraft systems with a focus on employing this capability in the Arctic.
  • Increases protections for survivors of sexual assault.
  • Improves measures aimed at recruiting and retaining women in the Coast Guard.
  • Improves the services offered to family members of Coast Guardsmen, including access to affordable child care, improvements to housing, and review of health care access - especially for those stationed in remote regions. 

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