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The Science Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on 17 May approved the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Act (House Resolution 50), a bill to clarify and codify the agency's functions and responsibilities. The legislation now awaits action by the full House.

NOAA was created by Executive Order in 1970, and since then has operated without a clear mandate from Congress on what its role and responsibilities should be. Passage of a NOAA organic act was a key recommendation of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.