In March, I testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the United States Coast Guard’s fiscal year 2020 budget — one of five budget hearings I will participate in this spring. Our service is grateful for the strong support of the administration and Congress to significantly boost our capital investment funding. This has allowed the service to recapitalize much of our surface and aviation fleets, including awarding the construction of the Polar Security Cutter, the nation’s first new heavy icebreaker in over 40 years.
However, to be the capable Coast Guard that America needs takes more than just modernized assets. On Capitol Hill and across the country, I consistently emphasize that maintaining readiness is my absolute highest priority. The cornerstone of our readiness is the dedicated men and women of the Coast Guard who define our service and are the key to our success. Our missions never have been more relevant or in higher demand than today, placing increasing demands on Coast Guardsmen without adequate funding to support them.
Today, illicit networks, natural disasters, competing great powers and hostile adversaries do not respect borders and, in some cases, rules-based order. As challenges to our security, prosperity and global influence grow more complex, the need for a “ready, relevant, and responsive” Coast Guard never has been greater. The Coast Guard is a global force with broad authorities and unique capabilities. As the only military service located in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we are an instrument of national power at home and abroad, providing solutions across the full spectrum of operations, from security cooperation up to armed conflict.