[WASHINGTON, DC] – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, applauded Senate passage of legislation to authorize funding for the U.S. Coast Guard, including important investments that will support jobs in Connecticut. The bill now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for final passage.
“This bipartisan legislation will help the Coast Guard update its aging fleet, improve personnel training, and bolster maritime security,” said Blumenthal. “For more than two centuries, the Coast Guard has called Connecticut home and contributed to the vitality of our communities and economy. This bill is a major win for our state and nation—it will ensure the Coast Guard remains strong and continues to employ thousands in Connecticut.”
This bill reauthorizes funding for critical Coast Guard operations through Fiscal Year 2019, at a total of $20.7 billion over two years. This represents a 13.7 percent increase from the last two-year authorization bill—ensuring increased resources for Coast Guard operations in New London, Connecticut. It also includes language Blumenthal worked to secure that authorizes significant federal funding for the construction and design of the National Coast Guard Museum in New London, Connecticut.
For years, Congress has prohibited the Coast Guard from spending funds to build the Coast Guard Museum. Blumenthal fought vigorously against the prohibition, and in 2015 based on his efforts—along with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT)—federal funds were permitted to be used for operations and maintenance of the museum and limited efforts like building exhibits and displays for Coast Guard artifacts. Based on that provision, Congress provided $5 million to the museum in a spending bill that became law last year.
The ban on use of federal funds for actual brick and mortar construction, however, has continued. The language Blumenthal secured in the Coast Guard reauthorization bill expands the Coast Guard’s flexibility to use funds for bigger, larger-scale construction efforts. The language will ensure the Coast Guard can properly invest in the museum, and that in turn will bolster private sector fundraising efforts and demonstrate that Congress fully backs this important monument to the tens of thousands of men and women who have served in the Coast Guard.
The Senate bill also includes important provisions to assist the Coast Guard in its efforts to combat criminal trafficking and smuggling and modernize its Arctic fleet, including an internal review of the requirements necessary to ensure the safety and security of the region. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Coast Guard, Blumenthal helped shepherd the bill through the Senate.