South Jersey congressman pleased proposed budget does not include Coast Guard cuts

     (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer Patrick D. Kelley)

    (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer Patrick D. Kelley)

    A congressman representing portions of South Jersey says he’s pleased that the first budget outline issued by the Trump administration does not include cuts to the U.S. Coast Guard and port security. 

    Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (R-02), a senior member of the House Coast Guard and Maritime Security Subcommittee, in a release called the cuts, reported earlier this month prior to the administration’s official budget release, “misguided.”

    “It is without dispute the men and women of the Coast Guard are doing an outstanding job, stretching the limited resources they receive now to keep our waters and ports safe. From traditional search and rescue to maritime security and drug interdiction, there is no other dedicated or capable force as the U.S. Coast Guard,” he said in the release. 

    As reported in the New York Times earlier this month, in an effort to shift funding to fund security along the United States-Mexico border, a draft budget proposal called for a 14 percent reduction in the Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget. 

    At the time, LoBiondo’s office said the potential impact to two Coast Guard installations in the congreesman’s district, Air Station Atlantic City and the Training Center Cape May, was not known.

    That prompted the congressman to blast the proposal. 

    “Let me be absolutely, 110 percent clear – if President Trump seeks to reduce operations and Coast Guard personnel at Air Station AC or TRACEN Cape May, I will do everything in my power, rallying my colleagues in the New Jersey delegation and across Congress, to sink his misguided and dangerous plan,” he said. 

    A March 8 bipartisan letter to White House Office of Management and Budget Director John “Mick” Mulvaney signed by federal lawmakers decried the reported cuts and strongly urged against any budget reduction.

    “We are concerned that the Coast Guard would not be able to maintain maritime presence, respond to individual and national emergencies, and protect our nation’s economic and environmental interests,” the letter said. 

    Mulvaney said last week that the budget calls for a six percent increase for the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that administers the Coast Guard’s budget, Defense News reported. 

    But he said the department would have discretion on how funds are distributed. 

    LoBiondo says he’ll remain vigilant as the budget advances. 

    “As we move forward with the Congressional budget process, I will continue to closely monitor the Service’s funding support to ensure these vital missions are not infringed,” he said. 

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