northeastern university seal

In March, the White House’s proposed “skinny” budget included deep cuts to the Coast Guard, $1.3 billion off of the current $9.1 billion budget, in order to help finance the estimated $2.9 billion needed for a wall on the southern border of the US. The cut provoked bipartisan opposition, threatened to hinder budget negotiations, and resulted in 60 congressional representatives signing onto a letter opposing these cuts that Congressman Duncan Hunter (R – San Diego) sent to the White House. Reacting to the Congressional backlash, the Department of Homeland Security, which manages the Coast Guard, proposed maintaining a flat level of spending for the Coast Guard. The final Coast Guard budget is still uncertain as the final vote is scheduled to take place April 28th .

Coast Guard Officer with Contraband
Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd class Brice Fronek, with Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber, guards contraband at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach.. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sabrina Laberdesque)

GRI Director and Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University Stephen Flynn commented on the impact of cutting the Coast Guard budget while simultaneously funding the wall, stating “If you lock down one part of the system, you push smugglers elsewhere, like into the maritime realm.”

Coast Guard Captain Laura Collins, commander of the National Security Cutter Bertholf, pointed out that many of the goals of the wall, such as stymying the flow of drugs and people, are objectives that the Coast Guard already addresses. Recently, the Bertholf intercepted a shipment of over 13 tons of cocaine that originated from Central America and was traveling by boat through the Pacific Ocean. Cocaine captured on route has an impact that’s multiplied, because it would be cut into seven or eight times it’s weight, meaning that 13 intercepted tons prevented between 81 and 104 tons of cocaine from being sold in the United States. These successes reinforce the stance that Dr. Flynn has maintained on proposed cuts to the Coast Guard budget, saying “As we learned post 9/11, you can’t do this piecemeal. You have to have it as a comprehensive approach.”


Further Reading and Sources:

  1. Trump cuts could mean stormy waters for Bay Area Coast Guard presence – San Jose Mercury News
  2. Trump’s draft budget proposes billion dollar cut to Coast Guard – CNN
  3. Trump Weighs Cuts to Coast Guard, T.S.A. and FEMA to Bolster Border Plan – New York Times
  4. Trump budget would slash Coast Guard funding: report – The Hill
  5. Transit agencies dread Trump’s ‘skinny budget’ – Politico
  6. America First A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again – White House