GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter led a bipartisan effort Monday in the form of a letter sent to House appropriators, urging them not to follow through on proposed budget cuts to the Coast Guard.
The letter, signed by numerous members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, advocates for cuts to the Coast Guard to be summarily dismissed.
For Hunter and other representatives, the Office of Management and Budget’s proposed cuts to the Coast Guard fly in the face of President Donald Trump’s commitment to rebuilding the military. If border security is tightened up on land, he said, it’s likely that drug smugglers and illegals will switch to efforts by sea to penetrate the U.S.
“OMB’s financial outline for the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard in particular is cause for serious alarm,” the letter reads. “The U.S. Coast Guard is a branch of the U.S. military–a fact that appears to have been discounted by OMB, perhaps because of the Coast Guard’s unique position as the only Armed Service outside the Department of Defense. Additionally, its counter narcotics mission has a direct impact on border security and law enforcement.”
The existing OMB budget calls for a reduction of Coast Guard funding by $1.3 billion in the next fiscal year, even though the Coast Guard is currently on a budget of just $9 billion. In turn, Customs and Border Protection would receive an extra $3 billion and Immigration and Customs Enforcement would receive $0.7 billion.
In total, the entire Department of Homeland Security budget would increase by about 6 percent.
Hunter has previously objected to Coast Guard cuts. In an op-ed published by Fox News last week, Hunter argued that the Coast Guard should not be overlooked as a key facet of the armed forces.
“OMB’s proposed Coast Guard budget is an insult,” Hunter wrote. “It undercuts the service to nearly the point of paralysis. It cancels a National Security Cutter, despite the need for as many as five-to-six more. And it impedes any recalibration of end strength and other asset acquisition, including the acceleration of a ground-based Unmanned Aerial System program, leaving the Coast Guard at the mercy of Customs and Border Protection to meet its needs.”
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