Review of Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for the Coast Guard
2253 Rayburn House Office Building
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Webster (R-FL) from today’s hearing entitled, “Review of Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for the Coast Guard”:
Today we convene to receive testimony from the Coast Guard on its Fiscal Year 2024 budget request.
I’d like to welcome our witnesses – Admiral Linda L. Fagan, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and Master Chief Heath B. Jones, the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard. Commandant, I certainly appreciated the opportunity to travel to Key West with you over the recent District Work Period. Both of our witnesses assumed their roles last year, and we welcome them both.
As we examine the Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request, the Coast Guard continues to be spread thin. At a time when the Coast Guard is seeing an ever-increasing demand for its services, I fear the headwinds of recruiting challenges and insufficient budget requests jeopardize the Service’s ability to meet its mission requirements.
While the President’s budget includes an increase for the Operations and Support program, the Procurement, Construction and Improvements Account — which pays for the new vessels, aircraft, IT, and shoreside infrastructure investments the Coast Guard needs to meet its future missions — would be funded at less than half the level Congress authorized last year. The Committee is deeply concerned about what that would mean for future mission capability.
At the same time, like other armed services, the Coast Guard is facing recruiting challenges. Those challenges are only expected to worsen in coming years. This year, the Service workforce is expected to fall 4,800 members short. I look forward to hearing from you on what you are doing to address those challenges.
As the Biden Administration continues to pursue its expansion of offshore wind energy production, I want to ensure that the Coast Guard is taking its role as the primary Federal agency responsible for maritime navigation safety seriously, and not merely acting as a rubber stamp for the Department of the Interior. Regrettably, it appears that the Coast Guard continues to implement the recommendations of the Atlantic Coast Port Route Study at a glacial pace — even after being directed by Congress to implement those recommendations.
I’m sure some of my colleagues will have questions about these efforts, and whether we can expect any resolution in the near term. I also remain concerned about the security of our port infrastructure, especially as it relates to the use of Chinese cranes at our marine terminals, and continuous cyber intrusions that threaten port operations.
I look forward to hearing what the Coast Guard is doing to counter threats from cyberattacks, transnational crime organizations, and bad state actors.