Democrats Beg Trump Not Gut The Coast Guard’s Budget

REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jessica Bidwell

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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A group of Democratic and a few Republican senators want President Donald Trump to abandon planned budget cuts to the Coast Guard, which would likely help build the border wall with Mexico.

Cuts to the Coast Guard “would directly contradict the priorities articulated by the Trump administration, in particular the priorities regarding enhanced maritime security needs and desire to invest in our national security,” a group of 23 senators wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“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 group, led by Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, said.

The Trump administration plans to cut cut 14 percent of the Coast Guard’s budget, and reduce TSA and FEMA’s operating budget by 10 percent, according to Politico reports on drafts of Trump’s budget. (RELATED: Trump National Security Buildup Doesn’t Include Coast Guard)

Reducing FEMA, TSA and the Coast Guard’s budget, all of which are under the Department of Homeland Security, would be a straightforward way to fund the initial phases of Trump’s border wall project without going to Congress for approval of additional funds.

From 2010 2015, the Coast Guard’s budget for building new ships decreased by 40 percent, the letter says, leaving the service little to spend on needed ship upgrades.

“Infrastructure continues to age and becomes technologically obsolete,” the letter said.

The group of 23 senators, led by Democratic Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, includes top names like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, as well as three Republican senators.

Sen. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, both Republican Senators from Alaska, signed the letter, which includes a paragraph about the age of the single icebreaking ship serving the Arctic. As polar ice caps continue to melt, the letter says, the U.S. is in a “race to the Arctic,” and our readiness “remains woefully inadequate” compared to Chinese and Russian capabilities.

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