Crist, Palazzo Introduce Bill to Promote Coast Guard Commandant to Joint Chiefs

Washington, DC – U.S. Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Steven Palazzo (R-MS) announced introduction of legislation to promote the Commandant of the Coast Guard to a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The Joint Chiefs of Staff includes the most senior uniformed officers within the Department of Defense and advises the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Homeland and National Security Councils on all military matters. Currently, JCS includes six military service chiefs – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, and Space Force. Despite also being a military service and having the same rank and privileges as other armed services, the Commandant of the Coast Guard is only considered a de facto member of the Joint Chiefs, potentially leaving out the Coast Guard’s unique perspective on national security concerns.

“The Coast Guard plays a key role in keeping our nation safe, making the service more than worthy of a seat at the Joint Chiefs of Staff table,” said Rep. Crist. “Including the Coast Guard Commandant as a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs will reinforce the value of the Coast Guard to our national defense, bring the Coast Guard in-line with other military services, and elevate the Coast Guard’s role in Florida and across the globe.”

“Unlike the other U.S. Service Branches, under current law, the US Coast Guard does not have an official seat at the table as a Joint Chief. While the U.S. Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, its work with the Pentagon is constantly growing.,” said Rep. Palazzo. “The Coast Guard plays a very important role in our National Defense Strategy and it is past time they have an equal role when it comes to advising the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council.”

The Coast Guard is playing an increasingly important role in our national defense - from countering China, to protecting national security in the Arctic, to preventing illegal fishing and drug smuggling. The bill offered by Crist and Palazzo reinforces the value of the Coast Guard’s role in our national security by promoting the Commandant of the Coast Guard to a full voting member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, bringing parity with the other branches of the Armed Forces.

Congressman Crist has been a vocal supporter of the United States Coast Guard, inviting a local Coast Guard spouse to the 2019 State of the Union Address as his guest to highlight the impacts the government shutdown was having on Coast Guard families who went without pay. This led to successfully passing legislation, also introduced with Congressman Palazzo, to protect the retirement benefits of thousands of Coasties in Florida and throughout the nation.

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