Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, released the following statement regarding today’s Subcommittee hearing on the FY2009 Coast Guard Budget:
“The United States Coast Guard is a critical service with numerous tasks that are vital to our country’s survival. Its members have risked their own lives to save over a million others. This past year alone, its drug interdiction missions prevented $4.7 billion worth of cocaine from reaching our shores and thereby the hands of our neighbors and our children. Its marine safety program and environmental protection are critical to regulating our maritime industry and keeping our waters clean.
“Following the 9/11 attacks on our country, the Coast Guard’s responsibilities expanded to include significant responsibilities related to port security. There is no doubt in my mind that this organization has the leadership, dedication, and skills necessary to fulfill these new duties. However, it has become very clear that the Coast Guard does not have the necessary personnel and financial resources to match all of the missions it must perform, straining its ability to balance its new crucial homeland security missions with its traditional responsibilities.
“Despite the ever-expanding role of the Coast Guard, its size has not changed in decades. In order for this outstanding organization to continue the unrivaled service it has provided to our nation for more than 200 years, we must ensure that it has the correct mix of personnel, expertise, and technology to accomplish all of its missions. For this reason, it is essential that the Coast Guard provide us with the figures detailing the number of personnel and resources necessary to fulfill all of its duties in the most efficient and effective manner. Once we receive this information, we will be able to react accordingly via the FY2009 Coast Guard Reauthorization.”