WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 finalized by the House-Senate Conference Committee includes several provision he championed to support the Coast Guard and improve health and safety standards aboard cruise ships.
“This major investment in the Coast Guard—which has called Connecticut home for more than two centuries—is a major investment in our great state,” Blumenthal said. “This bill invests significantly in the Coast Guard’s current operations, but also looks ahead to strengthen the Coast Guard of the future by making it more diverse and inclusive.”
“I have fought for the Coast Guard Museum in New London for years, and I am proud that with this bill, we are closer than ever to making it a reality.”
“The significant and long-overdue cruise ship health and safety standard improvements included in this bill will make our seas safer for passengers and crew alike. This legislation is a win for Connecticut and for our nation. Congress must act swiftly to pass it.”
The bill authorizes funding for critical Coast Guard operations through the next year at a total of $23 billion over two fiscal years. This represents a significant increase from the last two-year authorization bill—ensuring increased resources for Coast Guard operations in New London, Connecticut.
Blumenthal secured the inclusion of several specific provisions in the bill including:
· Building the Coast Guard Museum: The bill includes language Blumenthal authored and secured to support the construction and design of the National Coast Guard Museum in New London, Connecticut. This provision would give the Coast Guard the authority to officially partner with the National Coast Guard Museum Association and assume oversight of the museum’s final design, construction, and administration.
· Recruiting and Retaining Women in the Coast Guard: For the first time, the Coast Guard will make significant investments in efforts to recruit, retain and invest in women in the Coast Guard workforce. At Blumenthal’s urging, the bill includes a provision based on his Fair and Equal Treatment of Women in the Coast Guard Act that requires swift implementation of recommendations included in a recent report on the lack of gender diversity in the Coast Guard. In addition, Blumenthal fought to include a provision establishing an Advisory Board on Women in the Coast Guard to advice senior leadership on issues that specifically impact women members of the service.
· Improving Inclusion and Diversity at the Coast Guard Academy: The bill requires the Coast Guard to create a public strategy to improve leadership development and the culture of inclusion and diversity in the Coast Guard. It would require that the Commandant add leadership training for additional junior officers to reinforce positive behaviors and address toxic leadership early in members’ careers.
Blumenthal authored and secured language in the bill that would specifically identify “diversity and inclusion” as the responsibility of the Coast Guard Academy Board of Visitors. Blumenthal also advocated for the inclusion of language establishing an Advisory Board on Women at the Coast Guard Academy to provide female cadets with leadership training and mentorship early in their careers.
· Expanding Health and Safety Standards on Cruise Ships: The bill includes language from Blumenthal’s Cruise Passenger Protection Act to strengthen a number of critical medical standards aboard cruise ships, including ensuring the presence of a physician to treat any passenger in the event of an emergency, the appropriate number of qualified medical staff to treat the number of passengers on board, and that the passengers are aware of the location of the vessel’s medical facilities and the appropriate steps they should follow during a medical emergency.
The bill also includes Blumenthal’s language to clarify that vessels must have video surveillance equipment in all passenger common areas, and other areas, where there is no expectation of privacy to deter, prevent, and record criminal behavior aboard ships. The bill also allows individuals to access to video surveillance records for civil action purposes, mandates that all video records are kept for at least 20 days after video footage is obtained, and directs the Coast Guard to promulgate final standards within one year detailing requirements for the retention of video surveillance records.
· Increasing Foreign Vessel Transparency: Blumenthal authored and secured language requiring the Maritime Administration to publically disclose information related to approval of foreign passenger vessel operations in the United States.
This press release was made possible by: