October And November’s Congressional Wrap Up

2019-08-22T16:25:36+00:00 December 10, 2018|

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What Passed

While the October recess leading up to the 2018 midterm elections left Congress with few legislative days in October and November, several important ocean science bills were signed into law.

The Save Our Seas (SOS) Act of 2018 (S. 3508; P.L. 115-265), signed into law on Oct. 11, takes the first steps in addressing the growing global issue of marine debris by reauthorizing the Marine Debris Program under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and promoting international collaboration to combat ocean plastic pollution. The bill includes language allowing for the creation of a Coast Guard Blue Technology Center of Expertise, which came out of a hearing where Rear Adm. Jonathan White (President and CEO, Consortium for Ocean Leadership) and others testified on the importance of blue technology to understanding the ocean and how the U.S. Coast Guard’s missions are supported by robust ocean knowledge.

The Water Resources Development Act, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021; P.L. 115-270) was also signed into law, authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water resources projects in flood risk management, navigation, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration. At the end of September, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) that included an extension for the National Flood Insurance Program Further Extension Act of 2018 (H.R. 7187; P.L. 115-281), further extending the National Flood Insurance Program’s authorization to Dec. 7, 2018.

Additionally, the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (S. 140; P.L. 115-282) passed both chambers and was signed into law. This bill authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Maritime Commission through Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, reauthorizes NOAA’s hydrographic services program through FY 2023, and modifies the regulation of vessel incidental discharge and ballast water.

What’s New

In the Senate, the Facilitate Addressing Issues with Regulating Forced Labor in International Seafood Harvesting (FAIR FISH) Act (S. 3641) was introduced to combat human trafficking in connection with catching and processing seafood obtained through illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

What’s Next

A partial government shutdown was narrowly avoided on December 7, 2018 with Congress passing another short-term CR extending FY 2018 spending levels until December 21, 2018. Congress must then pass FY 2019 appropriations or another CR to avoid a government shutdown.

In August, The Commercial Engagement Through Ocean Through Ocean Technology (CENOTE) Act of 2018 (S. 2511) was received in the House after passing the Senate and is scheduled for a vote on December 10, 2018. Any bills not signed into law by the end of this Congress must be reintroduced in the 116th Congress to be considered.

Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership

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