CONGRESSMAN CUELLAR AT THE HELM OF INCREASING COAST GUARD PRESENCE ON RIO GRANDE
Cuellar amendment passes House
Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar spoke on the House floor urging support for his amendment to the Coast Guard Reauthorization (H.R.2830), which charges the U.S. Coast Guard to examine the need to increase the Coast Guard’s presence along the international waters of the Rio Grande River. Cuellar’s amendment passed the House by voice vote and carries the bipartisan support of Congressman Michael McCaul and Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, both from Texas.
Part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard is an integral part of making Americans safer – with responsibilities for such missions as protecting ports, waterways, and the marine transportation system from an act of terrorism and securing our borders against unlawful entry into the U.S. at ports and waterways.
Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard is only able to patrol a very small part of the Rio Grande River twice each quarter, leaving local agencies and the U.S. Border Patrol to provide security on banks of the 1,200-mile Rio Grande River, not on the river waters. Congressman Cuellar’s amendment requires the U.S. Coast Guard to:
• Analyze their current mission along the international waters of the Rio Grande River, including a personnel and assets assessment
“By increasing the U.S. Coast Guard’s presence in an area of unquestionable need, the international waters of the Rio Grande River, the level of security along the border will be heightened,” said Cuellar.
Congressman Cuellar recognized the need for local agencies to collaborate with federal agencies in efforts to secure the border.
“The safety of the international border is a national security concern as the level of violence in Mexico increases and spills across the border,” said Cuellar. “While local law enforcement agencies and the Border Patrol serve us heroically everyday, they have limited resources for patrolling the international water boundary. We need to offer them support in their valiant efforts.”
The Coast Guard Reauthorization provides $8.4 billion for the Coast Guard, $200 million over the President’s budget, and provides for a 1,500 increase in Coast Guard personnel, for a total of 47,000.