In Hearing, Senator Hassan Underscores the Threat Budget Cuts Would Pose on Coast Guard's Role in Drug Interdiction Efforts
Senator Also Highlights Importance of Coast Guard in Counterterrorism and National Security Missions
WASHINGTON - As part of her efforts to keep New Hampshire and America safe, secure, and free, Senator Hassan highlighted the negative impactthat budget cuts to the Coast Guard wouldhave on the Coast Guard's role indrug interdictionand counterterrorism efforts.During a hearing of the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard yesterday, Senator Hassan spoke out against cuts the Trump Administration has reportedly been considering to the Coast Guard's budget. The President's budget outline made no mention of the levels at which the Coast Guard would be funded.
Senator Hassan underscored the devastating heroin,fentanyl, and opioid crisis in New Hampshire and the important role of the Coast Guard indrug interdictionat sea, helping to stop the flow of harmful substances before they enter the country. Voicing concerns with the Trump Administration considering cuts to the Coast Guard, Senator Hassan asked Admiral Paul Zukunft, "Do you share my concern that drug cartels could expand their maritime operations if we're building a wall along the southern border at the same time we're slashing funds to the Coast Guard?" Admiral Zuknuft responded, "I do share that concern."
The Senator also highlighted how potential budget cuts to the Coast Guard would hurt our ability to confront ISIS and protect against terrorist threats.When Senator Hassan asked Admiral Zukunft to elaborate on the roles and missions of the Coast Guard in confronting terrorism overseas, Admiral Zukunft highlighted the functions of the Coast Guard's Port Security Units and the Deployable Specialized Forces Advanced Interdiction Teams in counterterrorism efforts. The full transcript of his response is below:
On the counterterrorism front, we've been a member of the national intelligence community dating back to 2001, and so we are embedded at every three-level agency to look at what threats may be posed against the U.S.
In terms of modes of transportation there is a large fixation on the aviation mode, but if you harden the defenses in terms of being able use an airplane, then you have the maritime shipping aspect. When you look at the millions of containers that arrive in our ports every year, so we work with Customs and Border Protections, U.S. Coast Guard, we visit over 160 countries a year, ports with whom we do trade to assure that they're complying with the international ports and security standards, if they don't they'redemarshed. As soon as they'redemarshed, ships will not trade in those ports because they know that when they come to the United States they are going to be delayed because we are going to do a very lengthy boarding to ensure that that is a safe movement. If we have an indication warning that there may be something suspicious in one of those containers, before we created these counter terrorism teams, about all we could do was wait for that to enter port.
We had a ship in New York called the Palermo, Senator, and it gave off a radiological signature, but it is right now sitting in metropolitan New York and it could have had a dirty bomb on it. This team would allow us to meet this ship way before it arrived passed under the Verrazano Bridge, stop the ship in place, determine what's on board before that ship would even enter in to U.S. waters, and that's what these teams do.