Sen. Murkowski fighting to save Coast Guard from budget cuts

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXDF)- At the beginning of the week, we told you about a letter Senator Lisa Murkowski wrote to President Trump about the proposed budget cuts aimed at the Coast Guard.

Our DC Bureau's Alex Miller had a chance to talk her about the letter.

They protect the country—– but the Coast Guard's role is unique in Alaska.

Whether it's fisheries enforcement, whether it's search and rescue or just the day–to–day assist to our fisherman...

And yet— Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowski says this branch of the military has been historically underfunded.

"You can only do that for so long before you really gut the strength of an exceptionally important agency," said Murkowski.

Leaks that the Coast Guard could see even more cuts, to the tune of $1.3 billion dollars—– prompted Murkwoski to speak directly to the Vice President.

"To project that the Coast Guard is not going to enjoy the support of this administration is not a very good message right out of the box."

She says the cut would be a direct contradiction to President Trump's message of bolstering the military.

"This president has said he wants to secure the border. Remember what happens when you put a wall across the land... If we have reduced our strength on the water side. Don't think you have helped the situation," Murkowski warned.

Her calls—– and the calls of other senators— may have worked.

"We do not see any cuts to the Coast Guard whatsoever," said Katherine Blakeley of the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessments.

The Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security—– which got a 6.8 percent increase.

Coast Guard spending was not mentioned specifically, so how that increase will be allocated is up in the air.

Still, Blakeley says it also shows flexibility in the White House.

"The administration can be pushed back on with some of these priorities that are important to congressional representatives," she said.

The president's annual budget is meant to set his priorities. Congress can take it – or leave it.

"We hold the power of the purse strings," said Blakeley.

And with so many cooks in the kitchen—experts say the budget is unlikely to survive in its current form.