They could, but it would more likely take the route that the Senator and co-sponsors appear to be taking in this case—you just tell the CG to make new regulations (following a review). Which means the CG has to go through everything including economic impact just as it would if they did it on their own.
From the proposed Bill: “IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall prescribe additional regulations to secure the safety of individuals and property on board covered small passenger vessels.“
It’s a reasonable way to approach it, these things should be done in a public manner with input and by an agency in consultation with the industry, and following results of the investigation. Of course that should also happen on its own if everything was working right. But the CG is not their own master, and regulation is a dirty word for its boss, who is still saying cut regulations so it’s good if there is a legislative cover for taking actions, it’s probably the only way anything would happen.
One interesting other item in the proposed bill though— this section: “ SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM.—Notwithstanding any other provision in this chapter, including paragraph (1)(B), the regulations issued under section 3203, including the safety management system established by such regulations, shall apply to all small passenger vessels.’’
This section appears to just say—apply SMS to all small passenger vessels, not pass regulations to do so. This could be something. Hard to imagine small operators going through this. And since they will likely have to buy something and services to implement and audit, probably deserves economic impact assessment which it won’t get. One wonders if the various lobbying groups representing small passenger vessels will lobby against this provision to keep it from affecting small operators or see it as a means to develop and sell SMS products of their own like the towing vessel RCP before TSMS.