Press Releases

Chairman Webster Statement from Hearing on Coast Guard’s Future Challenges and Needs

Washington, D.C., June 21, 2023 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446
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Opening remarks, as prepared, of Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Webster (R-FL) from today’s hearing, entitled “Review of the National Academy of Sciences Report ‘The Coast Guard’s Next Decade: An Assessment of Emerging Challenges and Statutory Needs’”:

Today, our Subcommittee will receive testimony on the National Academy of Sciences Report entitled “The Coast Guard’s Next Decade: An Assessment of Emerging Challenges and Statutory Needs’.”

I’d like to welcome our distinguished witnesses – Admiral Steve Poulin, Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard; Dr. Cary Coglianese, Chair of the National Academy of Sciences panel that authored the study; and Heather MacLeod, Director, Homeland Security and Justice, Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020 directed the Coast Guard to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to assess the emerging issues that will require Coast Guard action over the next decade and provide recommendations on what adjustments will be needed to support the Coast Guard’s efforts to confront these issues.

The National Academy of Sciences consulted with current and former members of the Coast Guard, industry stakeholders, and others to develop the conclusions outlined in the report, which was delivered to the Committee last month. Dr. Coglianese, I want to thank you and the other authors of the study for your diligent work.

Over the next decade, several external factors, including the advent of new technologies such as autonomous marine systems and global strategic competition—driven largely by China’s aggressive posture in the Pacific—will challenge the Coast Guard’s capabilities and require the Service to adapt to a changing mission set.

While the study found that the Coast Guard’s current authorities are sufficient to confront most of these challenges, Congress will need to continuously monitor the statutory authorities necessary for the Service to carry out its missions — particularly with regard to autonomous systems and the regulation of maritime safety zones for space flights and other emerging uses of the maritime domain.  

As the Coast Guard confronts these new challenges, it must recognize that as mission demand grows, it must be realistic about the necessary assets, infrastructure, and workforce needed to carry out its mission.

It goes without saying that with growing manpower shortages, an increasing shoreside infrastructure backlog, and a completely defective procurement process, the Coast Guard has a lot of work to do in order to meet the increasing mission demands the Service will see over the next decade.

To all our witnesses—thank you for participating today. I look forward to a candid discussion on how the Coast Guard will confront this changing landscape.

Click here for more information from today’s hearing, including video and witness testimony.

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