White House budget head: Reported Coast Guard cuts ‘not accurate’

White House budget head: Reported Coast Guard cuts ‘not accurate’
© Greg Nash

President Trump’s budget director is insisting that a report that $1.3 billion would be cut from the Coast Guard's budget is inaccurate, although the administration’s first spending outline does not include the data to back up the claim.

The budget blueprint released early Thursday details a $54 billion bump in defense spending and a 6.8 percent increase for the Department of Homeland Security, which the Coast Guard falls under. Nowhere in the budget, however, is a mention of Coast Guard spending, which was initially identified by the White House as a way to partially fund an illegal immigration crackdown and border security.

Last week, Politico reported the White House budget would include a 14 percent cut in the Coast Guard’s budget, from $9.1 billion to $7.8 billion.

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Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters on Wednesday that the reported cuts are “not accurate." He pointed to the overall increase for DHS in the outline, and said its secretary, John Kelly, is allowed to allocate the money as he sees fit.

Mulvaney also denied Trump's full budget would propose eliminating a planned $500 million Coast Guard national security cutter.

"This is a hard power budget, it is not a soft power budget,” Mulvaney added. “And that was done intentionally.”

Reports of steep Coast Guard cuts have drawn the ire of lawmakers from both parties.

House lawmakers in a letter on Monday urged the leaders of the House Appropriations Committee’s homeland security to reject a proposal to cut the Coast Guard’s budget.

Another bipartisan letter from 23 senators to Mulvaney last week said the Office of Management and Budget appears to be dismissing the Coast Guard’s role as a branch of the military, which Trump promised to build up.