May 14, 2024

House Approves Coast Guard Authorization Act

The U.S. House of Representatives today approved bipartisan legislation to strengthen, support, and authorize funding for the United States Coast Guard, one of the Nation’s six armed services.  The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024 (H.R. 7659) supports and strengthens the Coast Guard in its critical missions to safeguard borders, ensure maritime safety, facilitate commerce, increase transparency, stop the flow of illegal drugs and migrants into the country, protect the maritime domain, and confront Chinese expansion in the Pacific. Additionally, the bill strengthens sexual assault and harassment protections for members of the Coast Guard and ensures greater accountability and transparency in the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024 (H.R. 7659) was introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA), Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Webster (R-FL), and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Ranking Member Salud Carbajal (D-CA). 

“The men and women of the Coast Guard deserve the support of this Congress in their efforts to meet the challenges of their ever-growing mission set,” said T&I Committee Chairman Graves. “Those missions are wide-ranging and include ensuring the safety of maritime trade and a critical part of our supply chain, enforcing U.S. laws at sea, protecting our nation’s borders, helping counter undue Chinese influence in the Pacific, helping to develop the United States’ redefined role in the rapidly changing Arctic, and countering human trafficking and the influx of illicit drugs into the country. This bill provides the Coast Guard with the authorities and resources it needs to carry out these many critical missions.”

“Passing our bipartisan bill in the House today is an important step toward ensuring the United States Coast Guard has the resources it needs to take care of its servicemembers, carry out its mission and safeguard the nation at sea,” Ranking Member Larsen said. “The bipartisan Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024 improves the lives of servicemembers by authorizing investment in facilities and tackling the Service’s shoreside infrastructure backlog.  Critically, it also fights sexual violence by holding the Coast Guard accountable for its sexual assault and harassment mitigation and prevention efforts.”

“The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024 provides the necessary investments and authorities required to maintain the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out its critical missions,” said Subcommittee Chairman Webster. “As my state, Florida, continues to deter illegal migration off our coastal border, these investments will strengthen the Service’s ability to protect our maritime border.  The measure will also help turn the tide on the Service’s recruiting challenges and provides for additional surface and air assets, as well as resources to begin replacing the Service’s crumbling shoreside infrastructure. Following the troubling revelations of Operation Fouled Anchor, this legislation incorporates the Coast Guard Protection and Accountability Act of 2024 that Ranking Member Carbajal and I introduced, along with Chairman Graves and Ranking Member Larsen, which strengthens protections for members of the Coast Guard from sexual assault and harassment and increases transparency within the Service.  I appreciate Chairman Graves, Ranking Member Larsen, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Carbajal for their efforts to move this legislation forward.

“Every single day, the Coast Guard goes to work on the broad range of missions that keep our nation and its citizens safe. They mind the safety of our seas and the security of our waters, protect our seafarers and our beachgoers, and reinforce our national defense,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Carbajal. “And as the top Democrat on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, I’m proud to continue our committee’s tradition of advancing bipartisan legislation that will have the back of our Coast Guard – providing the resources it needs to complete these missions, support infrastructure and safety upgrades, and improve the quality of life for our Coasties. And in addition to these important investments, this bill also reaffirms our bipartisan commitment to holding the Coast Guard accountable for reforms needed to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassments from its ranks.”

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024 authorizes appropriations for fiscal years 2025 and 2026 to support Coast Guard operations and enable the Service to continue to recapitalize its historically underfunded cutter fleet, shoreside facilities, and IT capabilities.

In particular, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024 authorizes additional air and sea assets for the Coast Guard, including two Fast Response Cutters (FRCs), two Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), a Polar Security Cutter (PSC), two missionized HC-130J aircraft, and MH-60T Jayhawk aircraft.  The bill also provides additional support to enable the Coast Guard to address recruiting and manpower challenges.  It authorizes investments in the Service’s crumbling shoreside infrastructure, including its sole enlisted accession source, Training Center Cape May New Jersey, and sole Officer accession source at its Academy in New London, Connecticut.  In addition, the bill makes changes to maritime safety laws and amends requirements for merchant mariner credentials to facilitate an increase in the pool of qualified U.S. merchant mariners.

In order to better protect its Service members from sexual assault and harassment, the bill ensures the Coast Guard enacts recommendations from the Service’s own Accountability and Transparency Review, as ordered by the current Commandant, and abides by increased standards of accountability.  It also requires the Coast Guard to provide an annual report to Congress for each of the next three years outlining the Service’s implementation of efforts outlined in the Accountability and Transparency Review.