Missouri’s Hawley praises bipartisan movement on duck boat legislation

Duck Boat being raised from bottom of lake

After being stuck in committee on Capitol Hill for 19 months, bipartisan duck boat legislation from U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) is expected to be voted on Wednesday morning by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

It’s the first bill the committee is scheduled to take up Wednesday, and it comes a little more than a month after Senator Hawley told Missourinet that he was prepared to go straight to the Senate floor if there wasn’t movement on the bill.

The other new development is that Hawley’s bill now has a powerful Democratic co-sponsor, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois). Senator Duckworth serves on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and is the ranking Democrat on its subcommittee on transportation and safety.

Hawley and Duckworth also serve together on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (R) and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) are the other co-sponsors.

“For decades now, Congress has failed to take action to help stop these tragedies from happening again,” Hawley says. “The (2018) disaster on Table Rock Lake was sadly not an isolated incident. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle share my concerns and have come together to implement basic safety standards in every state in which these rides are available.”

17 people were killed in the 2018 duck boat tragedy on southwest Missouri’s Table Rock Lake.

Senator Hawley’s legislation would require the U.S. Coast Guard to implement recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), including requiring duck boats to remove canopies. The bill would require amphibious passenger vessels to be equipped to stay afloat, in the event of flooding. It also requires new reporting efforts.

During an October 2 interview with Missourinet, a frustrated Hawley said that the time had come for him to go to the U.S. Senate floor and try to pass the duck boat legislation himself. He had planned to seek what’s known as unanimous consent.

That won’t be necessary, now that the Commerce Committee has scheduled a vote.

The duck boat legislation was one of the first filed by Senator Hawley after he was sworn-in in 2019. It’s very similar to the bill filed by Hawley’s predecessor, former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D). Her bill was also stuck in committee.

17 of the 31 people aboard the boat called Stretch Duck 7 died after a storm with 70-mile-per-hour winds came through Table Rock Lake. The NTSB says the Coast Guard’s failure to require sufficient design of amphibious vessels contributed to the boat’s sinking.

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