A bill championed by Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida to restart the cruise industry in a safe manner was blocked by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state on Wednesday.
The Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (CRUISE) Act made it to the Senate floor, but Murray objected, and that kept the bill from passing.
“While I am as eager as anyone else to see a return to travel, we cannot cut corners. Doing so risks lives and will only further delay returning to normal, hurting our economy more in the long run,” Murray said.
“We must trust the science and we must allow the CDC to continue its work to help us return to what we love as safely as possible. So I will continue to work with CDC and the administration as they develop the next phase of their cruising guidance, but for now, I object,” Murray said.
Sullivan argued that at the beginning of the pandemic, little was known about the virus, but over a year later, that has changed, and there are now vaccines.
“You know, Sen. [Lisa] Murkowski and I had a meeting, our second meeting with the CDC Director, just three weeks ago. In that meeting, she told us that they were going to issue all of the guidance for the cruise ships, issue it all so people can plan. They said that they could anticipate with this guidance that we could meet cruising opportunities to start by mid-July in Alaska. They said that, with this guidance, the CDC wouldn’t have to be approving every move, every move going forward. And they said they would take into consideration this huge progress we have made on vaccinating Americans. In my state, in southeast Alaska, there’s communities with 60%, 70%, 80% vaccination rates. That’s where these cruise ships are going to be going,” Sullivan said.
The unfortunate thing, Sullivan said, is not one thing the director of the CDC told him turned out to be true.
“That’s not good. Her staff or somebody in the CDC needs to be held responsible for telling us something that was not true at all,” Sullivan said.
The CRUISE Act would revoke the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Conditional Sailing Order” on cruises and require the CDC to provide guidance to cruise lines that would allow them to resume operations. The bill further:
- Establishes an interagency “Working Group” that will develop recommendations to facilitate the resumption of passenger cruise ship operations in the United States. The recommendations will facilitate the resumption of passenger cruise ship operations in the U.S. no later than July 4, 2021.
- Requires the CDC, no later than July 4, 2021, to revoke the order entitled “Framework for Conditional Sailing and Initial Phase Covid-19 Testing Requirements for Protection of Crew.”
- Ensures that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the CDC retain all appropriate authorities to make and enforce regulations necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases on any individual cruise ship.
Congressman Don Young has similar legislation in the House of Representatives.