March 10, 2020

Chair Maloney Statement from Hearing on Worldwide Presence of the Coast Guard

Washington, D.C. — The following are opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, from Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) during today’s hearing titled: “The International Role of the United State Coast Guard.”

Chair Maloney:

Good afternoon and welcome to today’s hearing on The International Role of the United States Coast Guard. In my other role, as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware of the international moves being made by competitor nations to gain influence by exploiting opportunities and weak governance under the guise of building mutually beneficial partnerships. 

China’s Belt and Road Initiative for example, allows China to shape international norms and forcefully assert its global presence through more than $1 trillion of trade and infrastructure investments. Given the state of our crumbling domestic infrastructure, it is unlikely that the United States is going to match that level of spending. Instead we must make strategic investments that allow us to maintain and develop relationships with key partner nations by increasing their capacity, improving their maritime domain awareness, and enhancing enforcement activities that uphold the rule of law. I agree with the Commandant of the Coast Guard’s assertion characterizing the financial entrapment of vulnerable countries as more than just a conservation and sustainability issue; but rather a natural security challenge warranting a clear and decisive response from the United States.

The Coast Guard has a longstanding history of international involvement and has played a crucial role in every major American military conflict since its inception in 1790. While its military service is obvious, the Coast Guard’s diverse mission set also makes it distinctively qualified to advance America’s global interests and exert international influence. In fact, the Coast Guard’s current international presence is focused on non-military capacity building and strategic partnerships. For example, the Coast Guard has bilateral agreements with over 60 partner nations, uniquely leveraging partnerships across domestic and international arenas on a variety of maritime missions, including search and rescue, counterdrug, migration, fisheries, and proliferation security initiatives bringing trusted access, capacity building, and seamlessly operating under Title 10 and 14 authorities.

While the Coast Guard’s international missions have proven successful, I am keenly aware of the delicate balance that must be struck when allocating resources. Every cutter sent abroad results in one fewer cutter performing drug interdictions or search and rescue missions. 

For this reason, we must ensure that the Coast Guard’s increasing international role is met with additional resources. It is unacceptable that the Department of Defense fails to fully reimburse the Coast Guard for the direct international assistance it provides. Further, Congress must consider whether current funding levels are sufficient to support the Coast Guard’s vast array of missions.

I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses on the international role of the Coast Guard, where there should be a larger presence, and the ways in which Congress can best support that mission.

Chair Maloney statement as delivered can be found here.