August’s Congressional Wrap Up

2018-09-10T11:53:07+00:00 September 10, 2018|

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What Passed

Last month the Senate passed two bills that would advance ocean science and an appropriations minibus (H.R. 6157), which included a spending package for the Department of Defense, Department of Education, and Department of Labor, and Health and Human Services. The Commercial Engagement Through Ocean Technology Act of 2018 (CENOTE, S. 2511) would encourage partnerships between academia, industry, and government (U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)); address technology gaps; and coordinate development of unmanned maritime systems. The American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act (S. 1322) would establish a committee to award fisheries research and development grants across six regions of the U.S. and territories.

What’s New

Several new pieces of legislation were introduced in the House and Senate that focused on fish, healthy water and marine ecosystems, and coastal communities. The five fish-related bills would address the threat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing poses to our national security (S. 3400); encourage the use of scientific and economic data for management of summer flounder (S. 3331); strengthen fish habitat conservation by stimulating partnerships among public agencies (H.R. 6660); support salmon conservation by allowing lethal removal of sea lions that prey on threatened fish populations in the Pacific Northwest (S. 3315); and provide relief to commercial fishers being charged international tariffs (H.R. 6528).

Both chambers highlighted ocean health with legislation concentrating on harmful algal bloom research (S. 3374), coral reef conservation (H.R. 6665), and hazardous substance discharge (H.R. 6658). New Senate bills aim to strengthen and revitalize waterfront communities (S. 3265) and improve port safety and efficiencies (S. 3273).

What’s Next

Congress has yet to complete the appropriations process, and while several bills have passed within the chambers, nothing has been signed into law. With only 11 joint working days scheduled for September, the task of funding the government before the end of the fiscal year (September 30) is difficult. To avoid a government shutdown Congress could pass a continuing resolution (CR) that would allow temporary spending at 2018 levels until agreements are reached or another CR is passed.

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