Should Coast Guard hold garage sales, babysit during shutdowns? DeFazio says: Pay them


    Stock Photo: US Coast Guard / Grant DeVuyst

    EUGENE, Ore. - Members of the Coast Guard's civilian workforce should consider garage sales, babysitting and acting as a "mystery shopper" to make ends meet during the government shutdown, according to a 5-page guide published by the Coast Guard Support Program.

    Managing Furlough by on Scribd

    The Washington Post reports that the advice applies to the 8,500 civilian Coast Guard workers, a majority of whom have been furloughed. The rest are working without pay.

    Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, has a different idea:

    The U.S. government should pay the civilian workforce - and the 41,000 active duty Coast Guard members.

    Unlike the other branches of the military, which fall under the Department of Defense budget, the Coast Guard is funded through the Department of Homeland Security.

    “More than 1,200 Active Duty Coast Guard personnel and reservists stationed in Oregon are currently working without pay or furloughed while President Trumps holds their wages hostage," said in a statement on legislation he introduced to pay the Coast Guard during the government shutdown. "While the President obsesses over a wall that experts agree will not make our nation safer, he is ignoring the men and women who protect our coastlines every day. The Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act will provide financial stability to these men and women by ensuring they get paid despite the government shutdown.”

    DeFazio cites Coast Guard estimates that 31 percent of active duty members do not have enough money in emergency savings to cover a month's worth of expenses.

    The Coast Guard did get paid December 31.

    But that only covered that paycheck, according to the Coast Guard All Hands workforce blog.

    "It does not guarantee a paycheck on Jan. 15, 2019. Meeting active duty and reserve military payroll for January 2019 will require a fiscal year 2019 appropriation, a continuing resolution, or passage of an alternative measure," according to the blog.

    “President Trump and his Mar-a-Lago cronies may not have trouble ‘adjusting’ if they miss a paycheck," DeFazio said, "but for thousands of Oregon families, a paycheck means a mortgage payment, childcare, or a medical bill."

    Representatives Kurt Schrader and Suzanna Bonamici, who along with DeFazio serve the rest of the Oregon Coast in Congress, voiced support for the legislation.

    “Many of our public servants are stretched thin this month due to the government shutdown,” Schrader said. “That includes our Coast Guard, who are missing paychecks because of the failures of the Federal Government, but are still expected to perform their necessary duties. Oregon is mourning the loss of three fishermen this week from a capsized fishing boat that our Coast Guard valiantly risked life and limb to save. We are asking them to do their job serving and protecting our communities, which sometimes means life or death situations, without pay. Meanwhile Congress can’t do its number one job. What kind of message is that? Those keeping us safe, especially, don’t deserve to suffer because of our failures. Congress must step it up and fully fund the government.”

    “It is unacceptable that the government shutdown has affected the men and women of the US Coast Guard, who provide critical protections for our coastal and riverfront communities in many ways,” Bonamici added. “About 500 Coast Guard members are stationed in Astoria; they deserve to be paid on time. This shutdown is creating unnecessary hardship for the families of those who put their lives on the line to keep our country and communities safe. Passing the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act would provide relief for these service members and allow them to stay focused on their mission.”

    According to DeFazio, the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act mirrors a Senate companion bill. The bill "provides funding during any period during which interim or full-year appropriations for the Coast Guard are not in effect."

    That includes:

    • Pay and allowances for active duty and reserve members of the Coast Guard;
    • Pay and allowances for civilian employees of the Coast Guard;
    • Pay and allowances for contractors of the Coast Guard;
    • Payment of death gratuities with respect to members of the Coast Guard;
    • Payment or reimbursement of authorized funeral travel and travel related to the dignified transfer of remains and unit memorial services with respect to members of the Coast Guard;
    • Temporary continuation of a basic housing allowance for dependents of members of the Coast Guard dying while on active duty; and
    • Coast Guard retired pay and benefits.

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