Trump to speak at Coast Guard commencement ceremony

President Trump will be the featured at the Coast Guard Academy graduation in New London, Connecticut

Trump to speak at Coast Guard commencement ceremony

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2016 graduates and receives their commissions as officers from DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson during their commencement ceremony May 18, 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall)

Russell Blair
The Hartford Courant

Donald Trump will return to Connecticut next month for the first time since he was elected president to address graduating cadets at the Coast Guard Academy in New London.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that Trump will be the featured speaker at the May 17 commencement.

The president gives the commencement address at one of the four service academies each year, with the vice president and other top officials addressing the other graduating classes.

President Barack Obama spoke to cadets in New London in 2011 and 2015. Last year the academy hosted then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson as its commencement speaker.

Trump has vowed to boost military spending, but his initial budget plan included a $1.3 billion cut to Coast Guard funding, slashing its budget by 12 percent. The cut was ultimately restored after bipartisan opposition.

Adm. Paul Zukunft, the commandant of the Coast Guard, said the administration should support an increase in the agency's budget.

"The Coast Guard often finds itself serving in the shadows, and we need to put ourselves in the limelight," he told reporters after giving his annual State of the Coast Guard address. Zukunft said Coast Guard personnel are deployed all over the world and should be treated and funded like the other branches of the military.

When Obama spoke in New London in 2015 he focused on the threat of climate change.

"No nation is immune," Obama said. "So I'm here today to say climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country and so we need to act and we need to act now."

In his first 100 days in office, Trump has sought to unravel some Obama-era environmental regulations, including stricter vehicle fuel efficiency standards. Scott Pruitt, Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has questioned established science linking human activity to climate change.

Trump made multiple visits to Connecticut during the Republican presidential primary — stopping in Hartford, Waterbury and Bridgeport — and one stop during the general election campaign, addressing a crowd at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield in August.

———

©2017 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service