The lead Republican on the Senate committee that authorizes the Coast Guard is asking President Joe Biden to support the service’s recapitalization, operations and shore infrastructure accounts in the upcoming fiscal year 2022 budget request for the federal government.
“Over the past decade, the U.S. Coast Guard has taken on a greater number of missions to detect, deter, and disrupt terrorist threats and other criminal activity,” Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.), ranking member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee wrote Biden in a March 2 letter released on Wednesday. Wicker added, though, that while Congress and successive presidential administrations have provided funding to begin modernizing the Coast Guard’s fleet, the service needs more help.
“Despite these needed improvements, the Coast Guard overall remains underfunded,” Wicker wrote. Since fiscal year 2010, the Coast Guard’s operations and maintenance funds have failed to keep up with inflation, resulting in a significant loss of purchasing power. The cumulative impact over this period has been $2.5 billion in lost operations and maintenance readiness.”
Wicker also highlighted for Biden that about half of the Coast Guard’s shore facilities are outdated, hindering the service’s readiness.
“I ask that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s budget request for fiscal year 2022 continue to support the U.S. Coast Guard’s recapitalization efforts, account for increased operations costs, and, for the first time, adequately address shore side infrastructure needs,” Wicker wrote.
The administration hasn’t said when the FY ’22 budget request will be sent to Congress.
Wicker’s letter follows one written last week by a bipartisan group of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders who asked the Coast Guard to factor in new operational deployments in an upcoming update to a fleet mix analysis. The House letter pointed out that the Coast Guard’s recapitalization plans fall well short of meeting the service’s mission needs.