Trump's Budget Cuts $1.3B from Coast Guard's Funding

By MarEx 2017-03-03 17:10:30

The Trump administration's initial draft budget for 2018 includes a $54 billion increase in defense spending, a much-needed boost for the Navy and the rest of the Department of Defense. However, members of the House Armed Services Committee are pushing back against one element that they describe as a setback: a 10 percent cut in funding for the U.S. Coast Guard, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security.

Specifically, the administration's budget proposal calls for the Coast Guard to liquidate its top counterterrorism unit, the Maritime Security Response Team, and all of its regional Maritime Safety and Security Teams. Among other duties, Coast Guard security units provide the waterborne security detail for Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach during the president's visits.

“It’s nonsensical to pursue a policy of rebuilding the Armed Forces while proposing large reductions to the U.S. Coast Guard budget,” wrote Representatives Duncan Hunter and John Garamendi, leaders of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, in a letter to the president dated March 2. The cuts “serve to the detriment of U.S. national security and create exposures that will most certainly be exploited by transnational criminal networks and other dangerous actors,” they added. "These proposed cuts . . . will guarantee negative consequences."

Roughly half of the administration’s proposed cuts come from canceling the funding for a ninth National Security Cutter (NSC), a vessel that the Coast Guard did not request. It is already in preproduction at Huntington Ingalls' Pascagoula, Mississippi shipyard. 

The Department of Homeland Security never asked for the ninth large cutter, and top agency officials have said that it is not a priority. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, pressed for the appropriation and ultimately Congress approved it. The vessel was funded over the objections of then-Secretary of Homeland Security Shaun Donovan, who described the extra ship as "unnecessary." (Sen. Cochran's subcommittee also proposed funding for a tenth vessel last year, even though Coast Guard commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft warned that it could consume funds that are needed for other programs.)

Representatives Hunter and Garamendi suggest that instead of cutting the Coast Guard's budget in 2018, Trump should increase it. If the land border with Mexico is secured – as Trump has promised – Latin American cartels will likely divert more drugs to the busy smuggling routes in the Pacific and the Caribbean, where the Coast Guard confiscated 200 tonnes of cocaine in FY2016. Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft says that the service has fewer assets than it needs to interdict all suspected smuggling boats, and if it had more resources it could do much more to disrupt drug trafficking at sea.

Let's block ads! (Why?)

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.