Prior to the August recess, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill includes key provisions that would improve the safety of the millions of Americans who take to the water each year. It would mandate the use of engine cut-off devices for operators of boats under 26 feet while under way—a critical safety measure that law enforcement, manufacturers and the recreational boating community strongly support. This measure builds upon the important steps taken two years ago when Congress required manufacturers to install these devices in most boats under 26 feet , which is something many boating manufacturers have been doing for years.
Additionally, the bill would grant the Coast Guard “equivalency” authority—allowing the Coast Guard to streamline approval of the recreational boating industry construction standards and new technologies, all while maintaining the highest level of safety. Although the House had passed similar legislation in 2019, the U.S. Senate was unable to reach an agreement at that time. House and Senate leaders have spent the past several months negotiating the new agreement, which recently passed in the House and is expected to move forward in the Senate.