Review of Fiscal Year 2025 Maritime Transportation Budget Requests, Pt 2: The Coast Guard

2167 Rayburn House Office Building

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0 Thursday, May 23, 2024 @ 10:00 | Contact: Justin Harclerode 202-225-9446

This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

Witness list:
  • Admiral Linda L. Fagan, Commandant, United States Coast Guard | Witness Testimony
  • Master Chief Heath B. Jones, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, United States Coast Guard

Opening remarks, as prepared, of Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Webster (R-FL) from hearing, entitled “Review of Fiscal Year 2025 Maritime Transportation Budget Requests, Pt. 2: The Coast Guard”:

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.

First, I’d like to recognize the Coast Guard’s leadership in recovery and response efforts for the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore.  This reminds of us the vital importance of the Coast Guard in protecting our nation’s waterways. We are here today to discuss what the Coast Guard needs to continue providing this service.

While I applaud the increase in the President’s budget for both the Operations and Support and the Procurement, Construction and Improvements Accounts, I urge funding levels in line with H.R 7659, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024, which recently passed House.  That measure authorizes nearly double the currently requested amount for new vessels, aircraft, IT and shoreside infrastructure investments. 

But even the House-passed authorization levels are not generous.  Funding at that level would only stop the growth of the construction and maintenance backlog and fund those acquisition programs already approved by the Department of Homeland Security.   

Admiral Fagan, during your address on the state of the Coast Guard you rightly recognized your Service’s funding challenges, admitting your maintenance budget will only cover half of planned cutter maintenance projects in 2024.  I look forward to hearing from you on what you are doing to address those challenges. 

I also look forward to hearing an update about your recapitalization priorities, including plans for the polar security cutter and shoreside infrastructure.  This subcommittee has serious concerns about the combined budget impact of simultaneous construction of the polar security cutters (PSC), and the construction of two Offshore Patrol Cutters per year for a decade starting in fiscal year 2026.  I expect to hear from you today about your plan to move these programs forward.

Given the Coast Guard’s current recruitment and retention challenges, I also look forward to hearing what the Coast Guard is doing to ensure its members, who give so much to their country, have the buildings, facilities, and IT support they need and deserve.

This subcommittee greatly appreciates the hard work the Coast Guard does every day.  Just last month, a young Coast Guard pilot, Michael McCaslin, the brother of one of our T&I Committee staffers, rescued a pregnant woman on a cruise ship hundreds of miles off Puerto Rico.  And just a few days ago the Coast Guard rescued seven people from a vessel after it was disabled by a lightning strike that struck both the captain and the vessel off the coast of my home state of Florida.  This demonstrates why you live up to your motto of semper paratus.

This subcommittee urges you to be straightforward with Congress about the Service’s needs and ask for what you need to carry out its missions.  Thank you for participating today — I look forward to your candid testimony.

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