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Rubio Welcomes Senate Passage of Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) welcomed the Senate’s passage of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, which reauthorizes and includes several other reforms to bolster U.S. Coast Guard maritime operations and missions through Fiscal Year 2019.
Notably, the legislation contains a bipartisan compromise of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), previously championed by Rubio, who served as the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee overseeing the Coast Guard during the 114th Congress. VIDA will create a national, uniform standard for regulating ballast water and other incidental discharges from vessels and exempts small commercial vessels from burdensome regulations. The Coast Guard Authorization Act now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
“The Coast Guard plays a vital role in protecting our homeland’s security throughout our nation and across Florida’s waterways,” Rubio said. “Enacting the VIDA provision I championed will allow American vessel operators to do their jobs without burdensome regulations and bureaucratic red tape. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I look forward to securing more funding for the men and women of the Coast Guard so that we can continue to provide critical disaster relief, prevent drug smuggling and promote our national security interests.”
- Vessel Incidental Discharge Act: Tasks the Environmental Protection Agency the authority for establishing a national, uniform standard for regulating ballast water and other incidental discharges from vessels; and gives the U.S. Coast Guard the sole authority for monitoring and enforcing such standards. Includes language exempting small commercial vessels (79 feet and under) from such regulations.
- Increases authorization levels for the U.S. Coast Guard for fiscal years 2018 ($10.1 billion) and 2019 ($10.6 billion).
- Authorizes funding for three Fast Response Cutters.
- Includes new authorities related to enhancing maritime drug and border enforcement.
- Includes a provision to transfer Coast Guard property in Jupiter Island, FL, for inclusion in the Hobe Sound Wildlife Refuge.
- Includes a provision to allow the use of a wider variety of logbooks, including electronic, and exempts ferries and certain passenger vessels from logbook requirements.
- Includes a requirement that the mandatory use of factory installed cut-off switches for recreational vessels less than 26 feet in length, without a cabin, and only when underway.
- Includes a requirement that the USCG to develop a performance standard for the alternative use and possession of distress signals, including authorizing electronic position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB) and Personal Locating Beacons (PLBs).