Senator Hassan to Trump Administration: Restore Coast Guard Budget
Senator Hassan Joins Colleagues from Both Parties in Urging the Trump Administration to Drop Plans to Slash Funding for the Coast Guard to Pay for the President's Border Wall
Letter Follows Senator Hassan's Questioning of DHS Deputy Secretary Nominee Elaine Duke This Morning
WASHINGTON - In a bipartisan letter sent today, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a bipartisan group of 23 Senators including Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Gary Peters (D-MI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in urging Office of Management and Budget Administrator Mick Mulvaney not to make a devastating $1.3 billion dollar cut to the budget of the United States Coast Guard.
According to reports, the FY 2018 Presidential Budget Request will suggest slashing almost 12 percent of the service's budget in order to pay for the President's border wall. The Senators note that the Coast Guard plays an outsized role in stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the country and protecting our borders, and that the Coast Guard budget should be increased rather than gutted.
"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 proposed reduction... would directly contradict the priorities articulated by the Trump Administration," wrote the Senators. "We urge you to restore the $1.3 billion dollar 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 Senators note that Coast Guard funding has already been allowed to slip well below the levels necessary to fulfill its mission and maintain its equipment and infrastructure. Between 2010 and 2015, the service's acquisition budget fell by some 40 percent. The fleet of cutters and patrol boats that intercept drugs and guard our nation's waterways are aging at an unsustainable rate with no prospect of replacement.
Also today, Senator Hassan pressed Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary nominee Elaine Duke on the impact that these proposed cuts to the Coast Guard would have on national security and drug interdiction efforts.
During this morning's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee meeting, Senator Hassan said, "this is a cut being suggested by OMB in order to pay for the president's wall. I'm having a hard time understanding the logic of a move like this. If we build a wall along the southern border, and gut the Coast Guard in the process - what we've seen from these drug cartels is that they're creative - and I think that just incentivizes the cartels to smuggle more drugs across our maritime boundaries."