The Committee will review the President’s proposed U.S. Coast Guard budget for the 2009 fiscal year.
It will also examine programs in the pending Coast Guard Reauthorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.
The hearing coverage is audio only.
Daniel K. InouyeSenatorThe Coast Guard celebrated significant achievements in 2007. The men and women of the Coast Guard intercepted and seized a record 355,755 pounds of cocaine. And more impressively, they saved more than 5,000 lives, reaching an incredible landmark of saving more than one million lives since the Coast Guards’ inception.I would like to commend the men and the women of the Coast Guard for their diligent and tireless efforts. Their many accomplishments only begin to illustrate the extent to which the American people rely on the Coast Guard.From protecting the American people to protecting our natural resources, the Coast Guard is tasked with eleven critical missions. The Congress must work to ensure that the Coast Guard has sufficient resources to carry out all of these critical missions.The Coast Guard’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget proposal, however, fails to include a funding request for the development of Interagency Operation Command Centers, which are mandated by the SAFE Port Act. The Command Centers are essential to providing a unified and effective command and control structure in the event of a transportation disruption in our nation’s ports and waterways.Furthermore, in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, the Coast Guard has faced new security responsibilities. However, I am once again concerned that the Coast Guard budget proposal does not adequately fund some of the traditional Coast Guard missions. While I support priority funding for security missions, including the Coast Guard’s recent efforts to increase its intelligence and awareness regimes, we should not neglect programs like the Coast Guard’s living marine initiatives.I am particularly concerned with the lack of resources in Hawaii’s District 14, especially since District 14 is responsible for monitoring approximately 43 percent of the Pacific Area. While I applaud District 14’s recent interceptions of illegal fishing in the Pacific, I am concerned it cannot maximize its capabilities if it is faced with a budget shortage.I look forward to hearing today’s testimony from Admiral Allen and Mr. Caldwell, and to working together to determine how we can address these important issues.
Ted StevensSenatorAS MANY OF YOU HAVE HEARD ME SAY BEFORE, ALASKA HAS NEARLY HALF THE COASTLINE OF THE UNITED STATES AND THE MISSIONS OF THE U.S. COAST GUARD IN ALASKA ARE CRITICAL TO THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF OUR NATION.THIS PAST YEAR THE COAST GUARD CELEBRATED ITS ONE MILLIONTH LIFE SAVED, AND I WAS HONORED TO HAVE A CHANCE TO MEET WITH ONE OF YOUR RESCUE SWIMMERS – KODIAK BASED PETTY OFFICER WILL MILAM (“MY-LIM”) LAST MONTH. I BELIEVE HIS COURAGE AND DEDICATION PERSONIFIES THE CORE VALUES OF OUR COAST GUARD.AS THE MISSIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE COAST GUARD GROW, THE SIZE OF THE SERVICE HAS REMAINED BASICALLY UNCHANGED AND YOUR FLEET HAS BEEN PUSHED WELL BEYOND ITS SERVICE LIFE. I WAS PLEASED TO SEE YOUR BUDGET REQUESTED FUNDING TO KEEP THE DEEPWATER PROGRAM ON TRACK, BUT I ALSO BELIEVE THAT WE MUST FIND THE MEANS FOR THE COAST GUARD TO MAINTAIN ITS OPERATIONAL CAPABILITIES UNTIL THOSE NEW VESSELS AND AIRCRAFT ARE ON LINE.I REALIZE THAT KEEPING SOME OF YOUR OLDER VESSELS OPERATING IS DIFFICULT, BUT THE OPERATIONAL GAP CREATED BY TAKING THEM OUT OF SERVICE IS SIMPLY TOO LARGE.I AM ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT THE STATE OF OUR POLAR ICE BREAKER FLEET. WE ARE ENTERING AN AGE WHERE A FEDERAL PRESENCE IN THE ARCTIC IS CRUCIAL TO PROTECTING OUR INTERESTS AND SUPPORTING SCIENCTIFIC RESEARCH. I AM NOT CONVINCED THAT THE FUNDING MECHANISM WE HAVE ESTABLISHED BETWEEN THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION AND THE COAST GUARD ADEQUATELY ADDRESSES OUR NEEDS. THE FACT THAT THERE IS NOTHING IN YOUR BUDGET TO ADDRESS THE CONDITION OF OUR POLAR ICE BREAKER SUPPORTS THIS CONCERN.
Witness Panel 1
Admiral Thad W. AllenCommandantUnited States Coast Guard
Mr. Stephen L. CaldwellDirector, Homeland Security and Justice IssuesU.S. Government Accountability Office