Senators Call for Protection of Coast Guard Budget

A bipartisan group of 23 senators is urging the Trump administration to stop proposed plans to cut $1.3 billion from the US Coast Guard budget, citing its importance to national and economic security and halting the flow of illegal drugs.

According to reports, the FY 2018 presidential budget request could amount to almost 12 percent of the Coast Guard’s budget being cut, the senators said in a letter to Office of Management and Budget Administrator Mick Mulvaney.

“We are concerned that the Coast Guard would not be able to maintain maritime presence, respond to individual and national emergencies, and protect our nation’s economic and environmental interests,” the senators told Mulvaney.

“The proposed reduction… would directly contradict the priorities articulated by the Trump Administration. We urge you to restore the $1.3 billion cut to the Coast Guard budget, which we firmly believe would result in catastrophic negative impacts to the Coast Guard and its critical role in protecting our homeland, our economy and our environment.”

The letter cited many other accomplishments and missions of the Coast Guard, including securing 95,000 miles of American coastline, preventing thousands of cases of illegal immigration, and seizure of a record 469,270 pounds of illegal drugs in 2016.

The letter noted that the Coast Guard had maintained active and vigorous anti-terrorism and national security operations around our nation’s oceans, rivers and ports, and around American ships, boundaries and interests in the melting Arctic, through the Maritime Safety and Security Team and Maritime Security Response Team.

Coast Guard funding has already been allowed to slip well below the levels necessary to fulfill its mission and maintain its equipment and infrastructure, the senators said. Between 2010 and 2015, the Coast Guard’s acquisition budget fell by some 40 percent.

The fleet of cutters and patrol boats that intercept drugs and guard the nation’s waterways are aging at an unsustainable rate with no prospect of replacement, they said. The situation is particularly dire in the Arctic, where the U.S. will be without a heavy icebreaker for eight years, and the only Arctic nation without such a resource, if no action is taken to correct that problem, they said.