President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for next year doesn’t include any increase in the Coast Guard’s funding, and the top official says he feels “left behind” by the administration.
The Coast Guard needs “to be more offensive” fighting for budget funds, Adm. Paul Zukunft, the Coast Guard commandant, said Monday at a conference at National Harbor in Maryland.
Trump’s proposed budget would cut 14 percent of the Coast Guard’s $11 billion budget, or about $1.3 billion of funds for next fiscal year, and halt a $500 million contract for a new 400-foot cutter from shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls. At the same time, the administration wants to increase Department of Defense funding by $54 billion to augment national security. (RELATED: Trump’s National Security Buildup Apparently Doesn’t Include Coast Guard)
“I’m delighted that Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps are being plused up, but we’ve got nothing left,” Zukunft said at the event hosted by the Navy League.
The Department of Homeland Security, which manages the Coast Guard, needs additional funding to pay for initial outlays of cash to build the wall on the border with Mexico, which could cost $21 billion for the entire project, according to a DHS report earlier this month.
The Coast Guard has 35 cutters, small ships that are mostly more than 50 years old. “All of them are being monitored for lead abatement and asbestos mitigation, Zukunft told reporters last month. “The time to replace this legacy — or perhaps geriatric — class of cutters arrived over a decade ago.”
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