Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard Statement at Coast Guard Readiness Hearing
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on Coast Guard Readiness:
I welcome everyone to this morning’s hearing on Coast Guard Readiness.
Admiral Schultz, we are pleased to have you testify before us today.
I’d like to start by extending my gratitude to you and all the men and women of the Coast Guard for your service to our nation.
This past year has been difficult for so many. The Coast Guard, in particular, has shown once again to be a resilient force in protecting our Nation.
The Coast Guard has been a critical federal asset in response to the COVID pandemic.
From the early days of the COVID virus, the Coast Guard was at the forefront of disembarking nearly 300,000 cruise ship passengers and crew and coordinating the deployment of medical staff and supplies, as well as safe medevac, and later delivering vaccine to communities in Alaska.
The Coast Guard’s role is one that can only be filled by this incredible service organization.
The COVID pandemic also required the Coast Guard to pivot from its everyday operational requirements.
In some cases, to maintain safety protocols, ship crews had to forego port calls and multiple times isolate for two-week periods.
The Coast Guard also endured distressing events such as fires on the National Security Cutter Waesche and the Icebreaker Healy.
In both cases, the crews mitigated damage to the cutters and quickly began repairing the fire damage.
The Healy also required moving a 100-ton motor from Baltimore to California and installing it onto the ship. This was no small feat!
And in addition to its normal workload and these extraordinary challenges, the Coast Guard was also faced with res ponding to the largest number of named tropical storms and hurricanes ever.
I am pleased the subcommittee was able to maintain our commitment to support the men and women of the Coast Guard by providing over $12.8 billion in our fiscal year 2021 funding bill.
This amount was above the request and included funding for an extensive number of items on the Coast Guard’s Unfunded Priorities List.
Many of these items directly support the wellbeing and readiness of the men and women of the Coast Guard.
I am also pleased we were able to fund important investments to recapitalize the Coast Guard’s air and marine fleets.
This includes four additional Fast Response Cutters to finish the FRC’s program of record; an additional HC-130J aircraft; additional MH-60T helicopters; and continued support for the Offshore Patrol Cutter and Polar Security Cutter programs.
Unfortunately, the preliminary budget document for fiscal year 2022 makes no mention of the Coast Guard.
We can only glean from this, that the request is unlikely to include any substantive enhancements for the service.
I hope next month, when we get the full budget request, this will not be the case.
Admiral Schultz, we look forward to your testimony and how you are executing current funding.
We are also interested in hearing your thoughts on the future of Coast Guard readiness.
While some of our questions may be oriented toward activities anticipated for the coming fiscal year, we understand, at this time, you are not at liberty to specifically address most 2022 budget requests.
Thank you again for joining us and I look forward to our discussion