Bipartisan Bill to Provide Critical Funding for U.S. Coast Guard
‘Our nation calls on the Coast Guard to protect America’s ports and maintain shipping lanes, to interdict illegal drugs before they reach the border, and to risk their lives to save others in the midst of fierce storms and natural disasters… So it’s time to pass this bipartisan bill. It’s time to help the Coast Guard continue its important work. And it’s time to deliver much-needed predictability to the mariners we rely on. I urge every one of my colleagues to join me in voting to advance it lat
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the U.S. Coast Guard funding reauthorization legislation before the Senate this week:
“This is an exciting week for the Senate. For one thing, we’re beginning to welcome several new members to our ranks. They may not be sworn in until January, but these new Senators-elect are already arriving in town for orientation events and to vote in their parties’ leadership elections.
“I know I speak for all of my colleagues in issuing each of our future colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, hearty congratulations and a warm welcome. We’re looking forward to working with you all. But even as we begin looking ahead to January and the 116th Congress, the reality is that we still have a series of important, outstanding subjects to tackle between now and the end of this year.
“First on the list is legislation that will reauthorize funding for our Coast Guard and implement a number of important reforms. Our nation calls on the Coast Guard to protect America’s ports and maintain shipping lanes, to interdict illegal drugs before they reach the border, and to risk their lives to save others in the midst of fierce storms and natural disasters. In each case, they embody their motto. ‘Semper Paratus.’ Always ready.
“So in passing these measures this week, the Senate will be fulfilling an important promise to some of the brave men and women who have taken an oath to keep us safe. Aspects of this legislation are particularly important to states like my home state of Kentucky – the heart of our nation’s inland waterways system.
“For too long, vessel owners and barge operators have struggled under a complex system of overlapping and duplicative regulations. They make normal shipping functions needlessly difficult, including the incidental discharge of ballast water. A confusing web of rules from states, the Coast Guard, and the EPA leave owners and operators to face constant uncertainty -- and lead to higher costs.
“The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, or VIDA, replaces the existing system with a uniform, cost-effective, and national standard enforced by the Coast Guard. For the 13,000 Kentuckians whose jobs depend on our state’s inland waterways, this provision can help cut costs, promote efficiency, and protect our natural waters.
“And for the countless farmers, miners, and manufacturers who depend on these waters to get their goods to market, VIDA ends the headache and delivers relief. VIDA passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee on a voice vote. In fact, it’s been reported out of committee numerous times in recent years – including when our Democratic colleagues were in charge.
“So it’s time to pass this bipartisan bill. It’s time to help the Coast Guard continue its important work. And it’s time to deliver much-needed predictability to the mariners we rely on. I urge every one of my colleagues to join me in voting to advance it later this afternoon. After that legislation, we’ll turn to another qualified nominee -- Michelle Bowman, to serve as a member of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve. Ms. Bowman currently serves as a banking commissioner for the State of Kansas. I look forward to confirming her this week as well.”
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