Sens. Sullivan, Scott, Rubio Introduce CRUISE Act to Resume Cruise Line Operations
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today introduced the Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (CRUISE) Act, which would revoke the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) current “Conditional Sailing Order” on cruises and require the CDC to provide COVID-19 mitigation guidance for cruise lines to resume safe operations. Representatives Don Young (R-Alaska) and María Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) will soon be introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“Unlike the airlines, rail, and other modes of transportation—and all other sectors of the hospitality industry for that matter—the cruise lines have been denied clear direction from the CDC on how to resume operations. As a result, potential cruises this summer, when the President said the country will be able to return to normal with more and more Americans getting vaccinated, have been left adrift,” Sen. Sullivan said. “The foot-dragging, mixed messages, and unresponsiveness of CDC leaders is totally unacceptable and ultimately endangering the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Americans and the hundreds of small businesses across Alaska that rely on the tourism sector. My legislation with Senators Scott and Rubio will accomplish what letters, meetings, and repeated phone calls have not—directing the CDC to finally codify timely guidance and a plan for cruise ships to safely and responsibly welcome passengers again this summer.”
“Florida is a tourism state with thousands of jobs relying on the success of our ports, cruise lines and maritime industries,” Sen. Scott said. “While many sectors of the economy have been safely operating for months under CDC guidelines, Floridians, and those across the nation that rely on the cruise industry for work, continue to wait for updated guidance from the CDC. The CDC's refusal to properly address this shutdown is wrong and it’s time to get the cruise lines open safely. Our bill, the CRUISE Act, says we’re not waiting on the CDC any longer. Cruises can and should resume, and we’re going to do everything we can to bring back our cruise industry safely.”
“The benefits of cruise operations are integral to the economies of Florida’s port cities,”Sen. Rubio said. “Floridians and many other Americans who are employed by ports, cruise operators, or work in hospitality jobs near cruise terminals face an uncertain future because of the CDC’s unresponsiveness to requests for guidance by stakeholder groups. I am proud to join Senators Sullivan and Scott in introducing legislation that would require the CDC to provide guidance to safely resume operations this summer, and allow Florida’s economy to recover even further.”
“Alaska's tourism economy depends on the summer cruise season,” Congressman Young said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the tourism sector and caused undue stress on the Alaskan small businesses that rely on being able to welcome visitors from around the world. Even before we had effective vaccines, the CDC continued allowing airlines, trains, and other hospitality providers to operate unencumbered. On the other hand, cruise lines have been unjustly singled out by CDC shutting down an entire industry with huge economic ripple effects. As the country begins to turn the corner on the pandemic, this industry has been denied the attention and direction from federal regulators enjoyed by other transportation sectors. With the 2021 cruise season hanging in the balance, significant progress towards the resumption of cruising is urgently needed. Every day that passes without the lifting of CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order is one day closer to the loss of the 2021 Alaska cruise season. No federal agency should have the ability to deprive Alaskans and their businesses the opportunity to earn a living for over 31 months. I am very proud to support the introduction of the CRUISE Act, which will finally force the CDC to issue concrete cruise guidance and implement a plan for cruises to set sail safely. I want to thank Senator Dan Sullivan for leading this crucial effort in the Senate. This is not just an Alaskan issue, and I want to also thank Senators Scott, Rubio, and Congresswoman Salazar. They, like us, have heard from their constituents in Florida on this pressing issue. We must trust the science; vaccines are effective and proper protocols can be put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. With the livelihoods of countless Alaskan small businesses in the state's ports and Alaska Native communities on the line, I not only call on the CDC to recognize this perilous moment for so many small business owners, but I also ask my colleagues to cosponsor this critical bill.”
“Welcoming over 5 million passengers and $9 billion dollars directly into our economy each year, Miami is the Cruise Capital of the World and it is time to start sailing again,” Congresswoman Salazar said. “I am proud to join my Senate colleagues and lead this fight in the House so that our ships can return to sea, our longshoremen can return to port, and Americans can start cruising again. This legislation will fix the CDC’s arbitrary guidelines and give clarity and fairness to the industry that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout Miami’s entire tourism economy.”
The CRUISE Act:
- Requires the CDC to issue recommendations for how to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 to passengers and crew onboard cruise ships.
- Establishes an interagency “Working Group” that will develop recommendations to facilitate the resumption of passenger cruise ship operations in the United States. The recommendations will facilitate the resumption of passenger cruise ship operations in the U.S. no later than July 4, 2021.
- Requires the CDC, no later than July 4, 2021, to revoke the order entitled “Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew.”
- Ensures that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the CDC retain all appropriate authorities to make and enforce regulations necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases on any individual cruise ship.
On March 9, the Alaska congressional delegation sent a letter to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky urging the CDC to act quickly on the next phases of guidance so that port communities in Alaska have time to implement new CDC requirements in order to welcome cruise vessels.
On March 25, the Alaska congressional delegation joined members of the Florida congressional delegation in sending a letter to Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID response coordinator, urging the Biden administration to be more transparent and timely in their efforts to develop guidance for the resumption of operations for the cruise ship industry.
In addition to working tirelessly to encourage prompt release of the CDC’s technical guidance, Sen. Sullivan continues to pursue legislative or administrative solutions to address the closure of Canadian ports to large cruise vessels due to the pandemic, a policy that prevents passenger vessels from transiting to Alaska from Seattle. On March 5, the Alaska delegation introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act to provide a temporary fix to alleviate the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) and other restrictions for cruise ships transporting passengers between the State of Washington and Alaska.
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