MARCH 13, 2017 — Mexico isn't going to pay for that wall and neither will the Coast Guard, if a bipartisan group of U.S. senators have their way.
According to reports, the FY 2018 Presidential Budget Request could seek an almost 12 percent cut in the service's budget, apparently in an effort to help pay for increased expenditures elsewhere in the Department of Homeland Security.
A letter sent by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Gary Peters (D-MI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and eighteen other senators urges Office of Management and Budget Administrator Mick Mulvaney not to make what could be a $1.3 billion dollar cut to the Coast Guard budget.
The senators note that President Trump has committed to stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the country, protecting its borders, investing in national security, and improving support to armed service members and their families. The Coast Guard plays an outsized role in all these areas and the senators say thatits 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 the nation's waterways are aging at an unsustainable rate with no prospect of replacement. The situation is particularly dire in the arctic, where the U.S. will be without a heavy icebreaker for eight years (the only arctic nation without such a resource) if no action is taken to correct the problem.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) also signed the letter.
The text of the Senators' letter is available HERE