July’s Congressional Wrap Up

2018-08-06T16:34:22+00:00 August 6, 2018|
(Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

(Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What Passed

The Senate approved a $154.2 billion “minibus,” consisting of four appropriations bills funding (H.R. 6147) that would fund the Departments of Interior and Agriculture, among others. Several amendments were adopted, including ones that would create a working group to reduce ocean acidification, investigate health impacts of harmful algal blooms (HABs), encourage kelp and seagrass farming and research, and direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide updated advice on seafood nutrition. This mandated FDA report could support the administration’s push for aquaculture expansion.

Additionally, both chambers passed the conferenced John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (H.R. 5515). The bill highlights research, innovation, and partnerships with academia and industry and includes a provision that would extend the timeline between reviews of the Navy’s impact on marine mammals to every seven years rather than five. The final bill also addresses national security concerns regarding talent recruitment at universities and calls for an initiative, established by the Department of Defense, to work with universities doing defense and engineering research.

Legislation amending the Billfish Conservation Act of 2012 to restrict sales and protect against shark finning passed the Senate and was signed by the president (H.R. 4528, P.L. 115-228). In the House, the amended marine debris bill (S. 756) was approved with strong bipartisan support, and the reauthorization (H.R. 200) of the nation’s leading fisheries management bill (Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act) passed on near party lines.

 What’s New

The introduction of legislation from the House and Senate shared a theme of healthy coastal ecosystems. The bills would encourage research on HABs (H.R. 6645), provide tax relief for areas impacted by HABs (S. 3206), and establish processes to prevent introduction and spread of invasive species (H.R. 6362).

The House added a bill focused on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce education and training (H.R. 6623) while the Senate introduced a resolution that would designate September 25, 2018 as National Lobster Day (S.Res. 599).

What’s Next

There are only 11 dual chamber working days planned before the end of the fiscal year, and appropriations still need to be passed. The Senate has approved seven of the 12 spending bills, while the House has passed six. All 12 will need to be cleared and signed by the president by September 30 or a continuing resolution passed to extend the deadline and avoid a government shutdown.

 Related coverage from the Consortium For Ocean Leadership:

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