In a bipartisan effort on Tuesday, July 21, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020, which now heads to the Senate to be reconciled in conference with the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act.
The House passed similar legislation in July 2019, but the Senate failed to act on it.
The legislation honors the memory of the late Rep. Elijah Eugene Cummings, D-MD, a civil rights activist who served in Congress from 1996 until his death in October of 2019. Cummings had chaired the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, and this legislation builds on his legacy to improve diversity and inclusion among the ranks of the Coast Guard, said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
The legislation includes increased authorized funding levels, demonstration program authorizations, new report requirements and clarifications and enhancements of Coast Guard regulatory authorities to help the Coast Guard better address evolving needs of the maritime transportation industry and improve execution of its statutory missions.
The bill includes provisions to further strengthen the Coast Guard by enhancing navigation and maritime safety, increasing funds to address a $1.8 billion backlog in shore infrastructure and deferred maintenance, authorizes new family leave and childcare policies, and increasing gender and racial diversity in the Coast Guard Academy and within the ranks.