MURPHY LEADS BIPARTISAN GROUP OF 26 SENATORS IN DEMANDING FULL FUNDING FOR NATIONAL SEA GRANT COLLEGE PROGRAM

Trump administration proposed to eliminate the National Sea Grant College Program in FY 2019 budget

WASHINGTON – After the Trump administration proposed to eliminate the National Sea Grant College Program from his FY 2019 budget, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, led a bipartisan group of senators in calling for the program to be funded – at a minimum – at its current funding level of $65 million. In a letter to Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kas.) and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Murphy and the other senators emphasized that the National Sea Grant College Program – which is a critical source of funding for Connecticut’s Sea Grant College Program at UConn Avery Point – provides critical support to local businesses, shoreline communities, and Connecticut students.

“As senators from some of the states with Sea Grant programs, we see firsthand how this federal investment is leveraged locally to bring immense returns to coastal communities, fishermen, universities, and students,” wrote the bipartisan group of senators. “Any cuts to this funding would have a devastating impact and we strongly urge you to reject any proposals to reduce this program.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Cali.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) joined Murphy in signing the letter.

Earlier this year, Murphy led 22 senators in urging President Trump to fund the National Sea Grant College Program at no less than current levels. Despite President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Sea Grant College Program in FY 2018, Murphy led a bipartisan effort to defend the program and successfully secured $65 million – $2 million above FY2017 levels – for it.

The full text of the letter is available online and below: 

The Honorable Jerry Moran                                                        The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen
Chairman                                                                                 Ranking Member
Commerce, Justice, Science and                                                 Commerce, Justice, Science and
Related Agencies Subcommittee                                                 Related Agencies Subcommittee
Senate Appropriations Committee                                               Senate Appropriations Committee
Washington, DC  20510                                                             Washington, DC  20510 

Dear Chairman Moran and Ranking Member Shaheen:

As you work to draft the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, we urge you to reject the administration’s proposed elimination of the National Sea Grant College base program. We are grateful that the committee included an increase for this program in FY 2018, particularly as the increase was given in a challenging budget environment. For FY 2019, we continue to support at least the current funding level of $65 million for Sea Grant. Furthermore, we are aware that the Sea Grant Association has recommended $73 million in funding to carry out their important work.

As senators from some of the states with Sea Grant programs, we see firsthand how this federal investment is leveraged locally to bring immense returns to coastal communities, fishermen, universities, and students.  Any cuts to this funding would have a devastating impact and we strongly urge you to reject any proposals to reduce this program.

Sea Grant’s work supporting waterfront and maritime businesses speaks for itself. The federal investment in Sea Grant centers yields $611 million in economic benefit, an 825% return on federal investment. This economic impact includes creating and sustaining 1,300 local businesses and 7,100 jobs.[1] In 2016, Sea Grant has helped 19,900 fishers adopt sustainable fishing practices and trained 2,002 people in safe seafood handling methods.[2] 

Sea Grant staff also assist communities with projects to become more resilient and preserve coastline habitat. In 2016, Sea Grant staff helped 300 communities improve coastal resiliency, aided 494 communities in adopting sustainable development practices, and supported 4,600 resource managers in using ecosystem-based management strategies. They also helped preserve or protect 1,400,000 acres of wildlife habitat.[3]

Finally, Sea Grant is helping to educate the next generation of freshwater and marine scientists. Last year, Sea Grant programs reached 781,000 K-12 students and in 2016 Sea Grant supported over 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students.[4] 

Sea Grant is vital to local businesses and an important part of preserving coastal communities for generations to come. We continue to support robust funding for Sea Grant at a minimum of the current funding level of $65 million and acknowledge the recommendations of up to $73 million in funding.

                                                            Sincerely,

Christopher S. Murphy                                                          
Susan M. Collins
Bill Cassidy M.D.                                                                  
Margaret Wood Hassan
Richard Blumenthal                                                               
Angus S. King, Jr.
Edward J. Markey                                                                  
Tom Carper
Dianne Feinstein                                                                    
Tammy Baldwin
Debbie Stabenow                                                                   
Sherrod Brown
Maria Cantwell                                                                      
Sheldon Whitehouse
Gary C. Peters                                                                        
Tim Kaine
Chris Van Hollen                                                                   
Ron Wyden
Cory A. Booker                                                                     
Amy Klobuchar
Christopher A. Coons                                                            
Tina Smith
Bernard Sanders                                                                    
Elizabeth Warren
Kamala D. Harris                                                                   
Jeff Merkley
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[1]“A Smart Investment in our coastal Economy”. Sea Grant. December 2017.  http://seagrant.noaa.gov/Portals/0/Documents/Handouts/2018-Seagrant-Factsheet-Dec2017-Final-Accessible.pdf

[2] “Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture”. Sea Grant. http://seagrant.noaa.gov/Our-Work/SFA

[3] A Smart Investment in our coastal Economy”. Sea Grant. http://seagrant.noaa.gov/Portals/0/Documents/Handouts/2018-Seagrant-Factsheet-Dec2017-Final-Accessible.pdf

[4] A Smart Investment in our coastal Economy”. http://seagrant.noaa.gov/Portals/0/Documents/Handouts/2018-Seagrant-Factsheet-Dec2017-Final-Accessible.pdf