The head of the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday a budget shortfall has caused "an absolute disaster," cutting the nation's drug interdiction efforts by more than half even as Congress is wrangling with ways to stop the flow of drugs into the country.
"We've had to shut down 30 Coast Guard stations, decommission ships, ground airplanes, reduce our drug interdiction efforts by 55 percent," Adm. Paul A. Yost Jr. said on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America."It's really been a disaster for us and the American people, really," Yost said.
Yost told Congress in March that the Coast Guard, whose duties include guarding the U.S. coastline against drug traffickers using boats and airplanes, showed a $103 million shortfall in its current budget.
He said then that the Reagan administration's $2.98 billion proposed funding level for the next fiscal year would not enable the agency to reopen the 30 shore installations that were closed in February. The proposal is $200 million more than this year's budget.
"We're seizing about half the drugs we were seizing last year," he said in the television interview today. "That means twice as many drugs are getting into the United States than ought to be getting into the United States."