The U.S. government partially shutdown on Dec. 22, 2018, after Congress failed to pass H.R. 695, the legislative vehicle funding the remaining seven appropriations bills needed to fund the government in FY2019, including the Homeland Security Appropriations Act (H.R. 6776 & S. 3109), which funds the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Transportation, HUD Appropriations Act (H.R. 6072 & S. 3023), which funds the Maritime Administration (MARAD).
The U.S. Coast Guard and the Trump administration worked out a one-time temporary reprieve to pay active-duty members of the Coast Guard on Dec. 31 during the shutdown. However, without an approved appropriations bill, considerable risk remains that they will not receive their next pay check on Jan. 15 despite being required to work as essential workers. As of Jan. 1, all Coast Guard active duty are working without pay while many Coast Guard civilian staff are furloughed without being paid as well. Most at the Maritime Administration are also furloughed without pay. Some live paycheck to paycheck and won't get paid if the shutdown extends beyond a couple of weeks. They will likely get back pay after the issue is resolved, but some will have cash-flow problems resulting in an inability to pay bills until that time that may adversely affect their credit. A typical Coast Guard pay period requires $150 million. While some organizations are utilizing private emergency funding or are raising private funds to help these families in these times of need, it isn't nearly enough, and an agreement needs to be reached to pay these workers through federal appropriations.
How We Got Here:
Lengthy, ongoing disputes over border security funding for a wall on the U.S. southern border between President Trump and the House and Senate in the 115th Congress have led to the stalemate. The U.S. House has provided over $5 billion for construction of a wall in FY19, while the U.S. Senate has provided $1.6 billion for border security enhancements in FY19. The president has been unwilling to accept a bill containing no less than $5 billion in funds to construct a wall, and the Senate doesn't have the votes to pass a version of the bill the president and the U.S. House would agree on.
Our elected leaders need to find compromise to end the impasse quickly because it is adversely affecting our sea services personnel. They must agree to a regular appropriations bill that funds the remainder of FY19 providing for the Coast Guard and MARAD. The bill should also include new starts such as the $750 million for the Polar Security Cutter. Additionally, all those essential workers working without pay or who are furloughed need their pay quickly and retroactively restored.
If Congress cannot agree on a regular appropriations bill and chooses to fund agencies in FY19 with a continuing resolution at the levels of FY18, then we ask that pay issues including back pay be resolved and anomalies allowing the procurement of the Polar Security Cutter be included.
Until enactment of a regular or continuing appropriations bill, Congress should pass S. 21 (Sen. Thune) & H.R. 367 (Rep. DeFazio), the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, that provides pay and allowances to the Coast Guard until enactment of a regular appropriations bill. Please encourage your Member of Congress or Senators to cosponsor these bills and pass this legislation.
Why You Should Act:
We must convince Congress and the administration to end the damaging effects a prolonged impasse will have on the men and women and their families who perform vital missions for our nation's security. Our military men and women and DoD civilians are currently receiving funding for FY19, but our Coast Guard, who serve as the nation's fifth military branch and MARAD, are under different appropriations accounts and are working unfairly without pay alongside their paid counterparts in the Department of Defense.