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Washington senator blocks swift passage of CRUISE Act

From left, Alaska's Dan Sullivan and Florida's Rick Scott argued for the bill, while Washington's Patty Murray, right, objected
Senators Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Rick Scott of Florida jockeyed to advance their bill to overturn the cruise shutdown but Patty Murray of Washington objected.

This blocked swift passage of the Careful Resumption Under Improved Safety Enhancements (CRUISE) Act. S. 1105, also co-sponsored by Marco Rubio of Florida. It would overturn the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's conditional sail order and allow cruises to resume from the US by July 4.

Sullivan, Scott and Rubio are Republicans, while Murray is a Democrat. All represent key cruise states. 

The action took place this week on the Senate floor.

'Foot-dragging and excuses'

Sullivan argued the CDC is 'dithering,' adding his staff has been meeting with the agency weekly while he personally met twice with Director Rochelle Walensky.

'And all we get is foot-dragging. All we get is excuses. All we get is guidance that's muddled, confusing and simply unworkable,' Sullivan said, 'And, here's the thing. In my state, communities are dying, and no one seems to care. The CDC, the bureaucrats there, don't seem to give a damn about what Americans are suffering through right now. Literally. I don't know how many times we can be on calls with them where we get no response. And when people lose jobs and lose businesses, that is a health impact, too.'

'Killing a lot of jobs'

For his part, Scott said the cruise shutdown is 'killing a lot of jobs ... It's time to get the cruise industry open and it's going to create jobs all across our country. Our nation has made enormous progress in fighting COVID-19. Yet the CDC continues to act like we're still in March 2020,' he said.

Meanwhile, Scott noted, cruises are taking place elsewhere in the world.

'My colleagues and I are simply asking the CDC to provide a timeline when the cruise industry can begin to reopen like so many other sectors and the CRUISE Act ensures they can do that in a safe manner.'

Murray objected.

'I understand the position of my colleagues from Alaska and Florida who want to see a return to cruising by July 4. I'm there with them. The cruise industry in my home state supports over 5,500 jobs and creates $900 million in annual local business revenue. Those jobs and that impact on the local economy have been severely disrupted,' she said.

Recalling 2020 outbreaks

'But we have to ensure the safety of our friends and our families on these cruises before they disembark,' Murray continued, adding that 'We have seen firsthand how devastating COVID outbreaks on cruise ships can be' when, in early 2020, thousands of passengers were stranded on board and people put in quarantine or refused entry to ports as borders closed.

'Cruise ships require specific focus'

'Cruise ships require specific focus and protocols in place to prevent future outbreaks,' Murray stated. '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.

'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.'

The CRUISE Act has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

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