Joyce Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the U.S. Coast Guard​​​​​​​ (As Prepared)

Apr 19, 2023

The Subcommittee on Homeland Security will come to order.

I want to welcome everyone to our Subcommittee hearing on the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2024 Budget Request with U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Linda Fagan.

Welcome Admiral Fagan. It’s a pleasure to see you again, and I thank you for your testimony today as we discuss the Coast Guard’s fiscal year 2024 budget request.

Whether it is enabling the flow of commerce through our maritime transportation system, interdicting migrants on the open ocean, or combatting illicit narcotic trafficking, our nation relies on the men and women of the Coast Guard.

The demands on the Coast Guard have never been greater. The Arctic, IndoPacific, and the maritime border have all presented challenges to the agency over the past year.

I look forward to hearing about your plan to confront the growing economic and foreign military activity in the Arctic, particularly as the Polar Security Cutter construction falls further behind schedule.

Foreign interests, primarily China, are increasingly using illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities to steal resources and undermine the maritime rules-based order. Admiral Fagan, you have characterized I.U.U. fishing as a top maritime security threat.

With a mix of both law enforcement and military authorities, the Coast Guard is uniquely poised to address I.U.U. fishing and to prevent illegal incursions into our exclusive economic zone and those of our allies. This is proven by the increased request by the Defense Department for Coast Guard expeditionary support.

The Coast Guard’s presence in the IndoPacific allows the United States to project power far from our shores and is a vital tool of national security and diplomacy.

Moving closer to home, President Biden’s failed policies have created a crisis at our borders. All of DHS’s components have been stretched thin and the Coast Guard is no exception.

The Coast Guard is interdicting near record numbers of migrants in the Caribbean transit zone, and over the past year its vessels have been at capacity.

Just in the past few weeks, Coast Guard Cutter Campbell apprehended and repatriated nearly 500 migrants who were traveling in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels.

This mission is difficult and dangerous for our Coast Guard men and women, and I thank them for their service, especially when you consider that Coast Guard Cutter Campbell was launched back in 1986.

Admiral Fagan, I want to hear how this budget supports addressing the crisis at our border and how you look to grow capacity to ensure that our maritime border is secure.

Unfortunately, the Coast Guard continues to struggle with major acquisition programs. As I mentioned already, the Polar Security Cutter, which was originally set to be delivered in 2025, hasn’t even begun construction.

The eleventh National Security Cutter is significantly behind schedule, and the newly awarded Waterways Commerce Cutter program is marred in legal challenges.

We need to work together to ensure that the Coast Guard appropriately manages acquisition programs and delivers the assets required to protect our shores.

Admiral, I look forward to working with you as we develop this year’s appropriations bill.

Now before I turn to our witness for her statement, I would like to recognize our Ranking Member, Mr. Cuellar, for his opening remarks.