1:09 PM EST

Judy Chu, D-CA 32nd

Ms. CHU. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.

1:09 PM EST

Elijah Cummings, D-MD 7th

Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, H.R. 3360, as amended.

This legislation, authored by Congresswoman DORIS MATSUI, would require that cruise vessels calling on the United States take reasonable steps to improve the physical safety and security of their vessels. The legislation also would require cruise vessels to report to U.S. authorities allegations of specific crimes on cruise ships.

Almost all of the nearly 200 cruise vessels embarking and disembarking passengers in the United States are registered in foreign countries. As a result, U.S. laws apply directly to these vessels and to those sailing on these vessels only when they are sailing in U.S. waters.

While available statistics suggest that crime is infrequent on cruise vessels, many Americans do not realize, when they step on a cruise ship, they are stepping on what becomes a floating piece of some other country's jurisdiction as soon as it is more than 12 miles from United States shores.

Unfortunately, for those who are the victims of crime on cruise vessels, the implications of this reality become clear only after they learn that the laws applying to the cruise vessels may not and often do not extend to them the kinds of protections United States laws would extend.

Additionally, the unique circumstances of life at sea, particularly if a vessel is far from the kinds of law enforcement resources that are available on land, often make the prosecution of those accused of committing a crime on a cruise ship very difficult. As a result, though crime is infrequent on cruise vessels, so are prosecutions of those accused of crimes.

As chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, I held two hearings to examine the issue of crime on cruise ships. I believe H.R. 3360 responds directly to the problems we examined in our hearings by requiring reasonable alteration in vessel design, equipment, and construction standards to increase the physical safety and security of passengers. For example, H.R. 3360 requires that cruise vessels install peepholes or similar features in cabin doors so passengers can

identify who is at their door without having to open it. H.R. 3360 also requires that cruise vessels have railings that are at least 42 inches high to help prevent passengers from falling overboard.

To ensure that those who are victims of sexual assaults have immediate access to state-of-the-art medical care, H.R. 3360 requires that cruise ships have onboard trained personnel who can provide treatment to assault victims, collect evidence to support prosecutions, and administer antiretroviral medications as soon as possible. The legislation also requires that a store of such medications be maintained on cruise vessels.

H.R. 3360 also specifies certain crimes that must be reported to U.S. authorities, and it requires the Secretary of Transportation to maintain an Internet site that provides a numerical accounting of the crimes reported to U.S. authorities. Such statistics will be aggregated by individual cruise lines, and cruise lines will be required to maintain a link to the site on their own Web pages.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I applaud the work of the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Matsui) who has worked tirelessly on this issue and given it just a tremendous, tremendous effort. I applaud her and thank her on behalf of the Congress and a grateful Nation.

I urge all of the Members of the House to join me in passing H.R. 3360, as amended.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY,

Washington, DC, November 12, 2009.

Hon. JAMES L. OBERSTAR,

Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN OBERSTAR, I write to you regarding H.R. 3360, the ``Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009.''

H.R. 3360 contains provisions that fall within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Homeland Security. I recognize and appreciate your desire to bring this legislation before the House in an expeditious manner and, accordingly, I will not seek a sequential referral of the bill. However, agreeing to waive consideration of this bill should not be construed as the Committee on Homeland Security waiving, altering, or otherwise affecting its jurisdiction over subject matters contained in the bill

which fall within its Rule X jurisdiction.

Further, I request your support for the appointment of an appropriate number of Members of the Committee on Homeland Security to be named as conferees during any House-Senate conference convened on H.R. 3360 or similar legislation. I also ask that a copy of this letter and your response be included in the legislative report on H.R. 3360 and in the Congressional Record during floor consideration of this bill.

I look forward to working with you as we prepare to pass this important legislation.

Sincerely,

Bennie G. Thompson,

Chairman.

--

House of Representatives, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Washington, DC, November 12, 2009.

Hon. BENNIE G. THOMPSON,

Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN THOMPSON, I write to you regarding H.R. 3360, the ``Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009''.

I agree that provisions in H.R. 3360 are of jurisdictional interest to the Committee on Homeland Security. I acknowledge that by forgoing a sequential referral, your Committee is not relinquishing its jurisdiction and I will fully support your request to be represented in a House-Senate conference on those provisions over which the Committee on Homeland Security has jurisdiction in H.R. 3618.

This exchange of letters will be inserted in the Committee Report on H.R. 3360 and in the Congressional Record as part of the consideration of this legislation in the House.

I look forward to working with you as we prepare to pass this important legislation.

Sincerely,

James L. Oberstar, M.C.,

Chairman.

I reserve the balance of my time.

1:14 PM EST

Frank A. LoBiondo, R-NJ 2nd

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3360, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, and yield myself such time as I may consume.

I would like to state that I believe this language is a significant improvement over legislation that was considered by the House in the 110th Congress and mirrors language currently awaiting final action in the Senate.

[Time: 13:15]

The provisions of this legislation were also included as part of H.R. 3619, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, which the House overwhelmingly approved last month.

For several years the Committee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation has closely examined the factors impacting the safety and security of American citizens aboard cruise ships that operate in and out of U.S. ports. H.R. 3360 makes commonsense improvements which will enhance safeguards for passengers during a cruise. While no level of procedural or structural modifications can prevent all incidents from occurring, I believe this bill will significantly enhance the capabilities of both passengers

and cruise lines in the future.

The bill will also codify an agreement between the FBI and cruise lines which will require cruise operators to [Page: H13024]

immediately notify Federal law enforcement agencies of major incidents that occur aboard a vessel.

I support the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

1:16 PM EST

Doris O. Matsui, D-CA 5th

Ms. MATSUI. I thank the gentleman from Maryland, who has been such a leader in all of this.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 3360, the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act, legislation that I introduced earlier this year. I want to thank both Chairman Oberstar and Chairman CUMMINGS for the good work their committees have done on this bill and for their tremendous support to enact this critical legislation.

There is an urgent need for the reform I have outlined in the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act. For far too long, American families have unknowingly been at risk when embarking on cruise vacations. Unfortunately, the status quo has allowed cruise ships to operate under foreign flags of convenience, and they are not required under U.S. law to report crimes occurring outside of our territorial waters. But leaving our territorial waters does not mean that cruise ships should be allowed to operate

without basic laws that protect American citizens.

My legislation requires that all crimes that occur aboard cruise ships be reported to the Coast Guard and to the FBI. Without proper screening processes and accountability, these reprehensible and violent acts will be allowed to continue. Unclear lines of jurisdiction are no longer an excuse for risking the safety of millions of Americans who board cruise ships each year.

I first became aware of the need for increased protections for Americans when one of my constituents, Laurie Dishman, wrote to me for help in April of 2006. Laurie was a victim of a sexual assault while on a cruise vacation. She was given no assistance by the cruise line in properly securing evidence of the assault, no assistance in identifying her attacker, no assistance in prosecuting the crime once back on shore.

Devastated, Laurie reached out to me, and I immediately called for hearings on this issue and began to work on this legislation. Our hearings made apparent the gross inadequacies of current cruise safety provisions; and with ongoing news coverage of recent rapes on cruise ships, it is clear that this legislation is urgent and necessary.

My legislation establishes stringent new standards to ensure the safety and security of passengers on cruise vessels. Its reforms include reporting that vessel personnel be able to preserve evidence of crimes committed on the vessels and provide appropriate medical treatment to the victims of sexual assaults. Security, safety, and accountability must all be strengthened to hold criminals accountable and end the cycle of serious crimes on cruise ships.

This has been a long, difficult road for all cruise victims and their families, and this legislation is truly a result of their courage, their dedication, and their conviction to prevent further crimes from happening. These reforms are long overdue, common sense, and are supported by the Cruise Line Industry Association and was included in the Coast Guard Authorization Act that passed this year.

I urge my colleagues to vote in support of this important legislation and join me in paving a path for a safer future for all cruise passengers.

1:19 PM EST

John Shadegg, R-AZ 3rd

Mr. SHADEGG. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in very strong support of this critically needed legislation, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act; and I want to compliment the author of the legislation, Ms. Matsui, for her efforts. Like her, I have a tragic story that has been brought to my attention which will be addressed by this legislation, and I want to make it clear how important I believe this legislation is to millions of potential victims who go unknowingly onto cruise ships.

Merrian Carver, the daughter of one my constituents, Ken Carver, was a vibrant young woman who had her entire life ahead of her. Tragically, at the age of 40, she disappeared from a cruise ship in August of 2004 and was never found. That would be bad enough in itself, but it is the outrageous conduct afterward which this legislation addresses. There have already been comments about the lack of supervision or safety or the lack of protection of the law, but in this instance there was callous disregard.

The steward of the ship knew she was onboard and that she had used her room the first night, and he conscientiously reported that she did not use her room again any of the subsequent nights. She had gone missing on the second day of the cruise, and nothing was done. No law enforcement officials were contacted. No family members were contacted. Nothing was done. In essence, the steward was told, Be quiet and mind your own business.

At the end of the trip, Merrian's personal effects were simply boxed up. The FBI was not notified. The family was not notified.

Ultimately, Merrian's family, in a desperate effort, was forced to hire a law firm and a private investigator. Again, however, they met with resistance and unnecessary delays in response by the cruise ship. It took days to confirm that Merrian had, in fact, boarded the ship, and video confirmed that she had boarded the ship. And it took even more time to get permission to interview the steward.

She had not been in her room for 5 days, and her absence had simply gone unreported and unacted upon. Her family hired a private investigator, and he was resisted in his efforts to talk to people on the ship. Ultimately, the law firm that they retained obtained a court order to interview the steward and other personnel responsible.

This simply should not happen on ships that call on American ports. It should never happen, and Americans need to be aware. Again, I compliment Ms. Matsui.

This legislation takes important and reasonable steps to protect Americans and all citizens when they board these ships. Cruise ships have a duty of responsibility to the people who board them. This will make those cruise ships more accountable and safer. It will, as has been mentioned, require some video surveillance to monitor crime onboard. It will require crime scene investigation training and certification for some cruise vessel crew members. It will require other provisions to ensure that

if one of our loved ones goes missing on a cruise ship, they are notified.

Importantly, it will require the preservation of evidence. Like Ms. Matsui's constituent who was the victim of a rape, this legislation will require that rape kits be kept onboard in case such a tragic event happens again.

This is critically needed legislation. It has followed somewhat of a tortured path. It came across this floor once before, and its ultimate enactment into law was jeopardized by being coupled with other legislation.

I compliment the chairman of the subcommittee and the chairman of the full committee and the ranking member. I think it is essential that this legislation be enacted, and I compliment you for separating it for a stand-alone vote.

1:24 PM EST

Laura Richardson, D-CA 37th

Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3360, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, which will address cruise safety in many of our communities. I would like to thank Chairmen OBERSTAR and CUMMINGS and my colleague Ms. Matsui from California for bringing forward this issue that we've all talked about and are now glad to see finally come to the floor again.

Cruise ships are enjoyed by approximately 10 million Americans every year, and many of them come to my district in the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. This bill will take many steps towards preventing crimes on cruise ships and ensuring that those crimes that are committed, the people who do those deeds, will find justice.

By enacting measures such as installing peepholes on doors, basic things like increasing video surveillance, and [Page: H13025]

keeping better records of incidents that do occur will make our seas safer and really cause the cruise to be a vacation as advertised.

I applaud the bill's emphasis on safety and health. It will ensure that a sufficient number of physicians are aboard every ship and that ships have appropriate up-to-date supplies of anti-retroviral medications. Just a few weeks ago, I met with some of the members of the cruise ship industry and talked to them about what they're doing to prepare for the H1N1 virus.

Now is the time. We have long put people in jeopardy of not really having the appropriate safety regulations and measures, and I applaud this Congress and our chairmen for bringing it forward today.

1:26 PM EST

Ted Poe, R-TX 2nd

Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman from New Jersey yielding time and his work on this legislation and, of course, the chairman from Maryland and his work as well, but also the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Matsui), who has been a relentless advocate of protecting citizens that are on cruise lines.

I recently was a cosponsor of similar legislation, H.R. 1485, the Cruise Vessel Security Act of 2009, that was passed by this House. And this bill, H.R. 3360, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, makes cruise lines more accountable when passengers become victims of crime at sea.

Every year cruise line companies carry over 10 million American citizens to and from America's ports, and these cruise lines promise Americans safety, security, fun, relaxation aboard their ships. But sometimes that is not the whole story.

In 2007 the Los Angeles Times published an article disclosing sexual assault data that was provided by Royal Caribbean International as part of a civil lawsuit. The article's disturbing and startling report showed that over a 32-month period, Royal Caribbean reported over 250 incidents of sexual assault, battery, and harassment. Cruise companies have been forced to pay millions of dollars in order to settle civil lawsuits filed in American courts for failing to protect American passengers. Congressional

testimony by victims of sexual assault on cruise ships exposes so much more than the cruise lines have really told us.

Most disturbing from this testimony were from female victims that were sexually assaulted by crew members on the high seas. Almost 40 percent of the crimes were committed by cruise company employees. And as the gentlewoman from California has pointed out, her constituent Laurie Dishman in 2006 was sexually assaulted by a man on the cruise ship who was a security officer.

This individual, Laurie Dishman, reported the incident, and the cruise line did absolutely nothing. When the cruise was over with, she met with the FBI and explained her case, and after several days she later received a phone call saying that the Department of Justice would not prosecute her case and that the FBI had closed the investigation and gave her no explanation.

So then she wrote a letter to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and they wrote her back, Mr. Speaker, thanking her for her business and even had the audacity to send her a coupon for future trips on their cruise line.

I commend Ms. Dishman for bringing this whole issue before Congress and especially Ms. Matsui, her Representative from California, for exposing these atrocities to the American public and to this Congress. If these U.S.-based cruise ship companies who own and operate foreign flag passenger vessels want to access the millions of Americans who travel their cruise ships every year, they should be required to implement proper safety and security improvements for all travelers.

The U.S. Government also needs to ensure that American citizens and American families are safe when they travel on cruise ships departing from our ports. And when crimes are reported on the high seas, the perpetrators should be accountable.

As chairman of the Victims' Rights Caucus, I strongly support this legislation.

[Time: 13:30]

1:26 PM EST

Ted Poe, R-TX 2nd

Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman from New Jersey yielding time and his work on this legislation and, of course, the chairman from Maryland and his work as well, but also the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Matsui), who has been a relentless advocate of protecting citizens that are on cruise lines.

I recently was a cosponsor of similar legislation, H.R. 1485, the Cruise Vessel Security Act of 2009, that was passed by this House. And this bill, H.R. 3360, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, makes cruise lines more accountable when passengers become victims of crime at sea.

Every year cruise line companies carry over 10 million American citizens to and from America's ports, and these cruise lines promise Americans safety, security, fun, relaxation aboard their ships. But sometimes that is not the whole story.

In 2007 the Los Angeles Times published an article disclosing sexual assault data that was provided by Royal Caribbean International as part of a civil lawsuit. The article's disturbing and startling report showed that over a 32-month period, Royal Caribbean reported over 250 incidents of sexual assault, battery, and harassment. Cruise companies have been forced to pay millions of dollars in order to settle civil lawsuits filed in American courts for failing to protect American passengers. Congressional

testimony by victims of sexual assault on cruise ships exposes so much more than the cruise lines have really told us.

Most disturbing from this testimony were from female victims that were sexually assaulted by crew members on the high seas. Almost 40 percent of the crimes were committed by cruise company employees. And as the gentlewoman from California has pointed out, her constituent Laurie Dishman in 2006 was sexually assaulted by a man on the cruise ship who was a security officer.

This individual, Laurie Dishman, reported the incident, and the cruise line did absolutely nothing. When the cruise was over with, she met with the FBI and explained her case, and after several days she later received a phone call saying that the Department of Justice would not prosecute her case and that the FBI had closed the investigation and gave her no explanation.

So then she wrote a letter to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and they wrote her back, Mr. Speaker, thanking her for her business and even had the audacity to send her a coupon for future trips on their cruise line.

I commend Ms. Dishman for bringing this whole issue before Congress and especially Ms. Matsui, her Representative from California, for exposing these atrocities to the American public and to this Congress. If these U.S.-based cruise ship companies who own and operate foreign flag passenger vessels want to access the millions of Americans who travel their cruise ships every year, they should be required to implement proper safety and security improvements for all travelers.

The U.S. Government also needs to ensure that American citizens and American families are safe when they travel on cruise ships departing from our ports. And when crimes are reported on the high seas, the perpetrators should be accountable.

As chairman of the Victims' Rights Caucus, I strongly support this legislation.

[Time: 13:30]

1:29 PM EST

James L. Oberstar, D-MN 8th

Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman, Mr. Cummings, for the prodigious work done, the hearing preparation, not just the hearing, but preparation for the hearing, gathering the information and steeping himself in the subject of the hearing and gathering all the data, and then working to shape the ultimate legislation. He has done a superb job, as has Mr. LoBiondo, our ranking member, and former chairman of the subcommittee.

I especially want to thank Ms. Matsui for her work at the behest of her constituent, having heard this terrible experience her constituent went through on that cruise experience. She then had the courage to testify at our committee hearing. That's really extraordinary. So determined was she to see justice done, to change the culture aboard cruise ships, the indifference we saw in this particular case, the indifference spread throughout this industry, to the plight of the rare but nonetheless

experiences that cruise passengers go through. Some 10.5 million took a cruise vacation in 2007. That's a very sizable number of our constituency nationwide.

There is only one U.S.-flagged cruise line, cruise vessel, I should say. There are over 200 cruise vessels that are registered under foreign flags. When crime occurs aboard those vessels, as was said earlier by both Mr. Cummings and Mr. LoBiondo, it's on the high seas, beyond the jurisdiction of the United States. But when that vessel comes into port, it is under our law.

This is a law enforcement bill. And the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Shadegg) very well and thoughtfully and with great feeling described the experience of his constituent, the family of constituents of a woman who was actually lost. This legislation, as he pointed out, and as Mr. Cummings pointed out, provides a pathway to correcting those problems out into the future. But we have to get a bill passed. That is why we separated this bill from other legislation.

There is already a hold on this bill in the other body. A Member of the other body is holding this bill up and insisting that a fee be imposed on cruise line passengers to pay for any Federal Government involvement. This is law enforcement. We don't ask our fellow citizens to pay a fee for their homes to be protected against burglary. We don't ask victims of rape to pay a fee to be protected against future rape. That is just--well, it's beyond description. I shouldn't say anything further.

But we have to get a bill passed. And the Member of the other body who is insisting on those conditions needs to have a visit with reality. And the reality are those victims of violence aboard cruise ships. And this legislation will bridge the gaps between the rights of victims and the actual experiences they encounter, provide protection, provide access to assistance to victims of crime and give them the protection of U.S. law, extend that to those 10.5 million of our fellow citizens who take

a cruise vacation so it will be a pleasant experience and not a nightmare.

Mr. Speaker and colleagues, I just want to observe and thank the ranking member of the subcommittee, Mr. LoBiondo, that this particular bill, is the 200th bill of our committee in the 110th and now the 111th Congress, the 200th bill that we have moved through committee, and I expect soon through the House and one veto override, in the 2 1/2 years under my chairmanship.

1:35 PM EST

James L. Oberstar, D-MN 8th

Mr. OBERSTAR. I want to thank my colleagues on the Democratic side and particularly my colleagues on the Republican side for the splendid participation we have had and the partnership we have enjoyed in moving together a legislative agenda for America, for the good of this country, a partnership that we extended during the years of the Republican majority from 1995 onward. It is a record of accomplishment that I think sets the standard for this body. And I appreciate the partnership that we have

had, in particular Mr. Mica, who is the leader on the Republican side, and all of our colleagues on [Page: H13026]

the committee, the 200th bill or resolution. It is a good day, a good day for America, a good day for our committee.

1:36 PM EST

Mark Edward Souder, R-IN 3rd

Mr. SOUDER. I thank the distinguished subcommittee Chair.

I rise today in support of this bill and not just because of the tragic cases that we have been discussing, but specifically, in support of a more obscure section in the bill that requires passenger vessels to be equipped with acoustic hailing devices. The Long Range Acoustical Devices, LRADS, are the next generation of nonlethal countermeasure devices. These acute, long-range acoustic hailing devices are important for both civilian and military vessels.

Following the suicide attack on the USS Cole while it was at port in Yemen in 2000, the United States Navy established a requirement for an acoustic hailing device. The intent of this AHD was to provide the Navy with a means to establish the intent of an approaching vessel at a distance such that defensive measures could be taken should the vessel not heed a warning.

These hailing devices are not only used as an identifier of intent but also can be used to repel possible attackers or to disperse unlawful mobs. An LRAD was used for this purpose for the first time in the United States in Pittsburgh during the time of the G-20 summit on September 24-25 of 2009.

Last week I had the opportunity to witness an LRAD in action. Ultra Electronics, a high-tech manufacturer near Columbia City, Indiana, demonstrated their acoustic device, the Hyperspike, both as a hailer and as a deterrent. The thumping pulsating sounds were impressive, and I now understand why the crowds were dispersed so quickly in Pittsburgh. I was also impressed with the range of the Hyperspike. It is capable of emitting crystal clear audible messages at distances of over 3 miles across the

water.

This act is intended to improve the overall safety of cruise ship passengers. It not only improves capabilities to thwart external threats such as pirate attacks, but also to increase internal passenger safety through increased security measures.

It has been well publicized that pirate attacks on cargo vessels are continuing. As these vessels improve their security against such attacks, it is very likely that the pirates will look for other vulnerable targets, such as cruise ships. This legislation will provide these vessels with the capability to establish vessel intent earlier and escalate security measures to protect the ship, crew and passengers.