A bill that includes an amendment protecting Coast Guard members and civilians from missing paychecks during future government shutdowns cleared the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on June 26.
The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019 authorizes funding for the service through 2021. An amendment to the legislation from Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) guarantees uniformed Coast Guard members and civilians would be paid during any funding lapse, and that death gratuities and other benefits for dependents would continue.
“This legislation ensures our Coasties can continue carrying out their important work to secure our waterways and keep our communities safe,” DeFazio said in a committee statement. “In addition, I am proud to have added an amendment which guarantees that members of the Coast Guard are paid on time and in full, even in the event of another senseless government shutdown.”
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MOAA endorses the measure, which now moves to the full House. During the partial federal shutdown earlier this year, MOAA and other members of The Military Coalition backed the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, which would’ve offered similar protection. MOAA also continues to press for similar protections for United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps members.
About 42,000 uniformed Coast Guard members missed their Jan. 15 paychecks, while several thousand Coast Guard civilians either worked without pay or were furloughed. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz called the situation “unacceptable”; the money was restored to their accounts after the funding issues were resolved, but several members experienced financial difficulties or uncertainty.
NOAA Corps members also missed the Jan. 15 paychecks because their parent agency, the Department of Commerce, was unfunded during the shutdown. USPHS members, who are paid monthly, were in danger of missing their next paycheck if they worked under an unfunded agency, such as those serving alongside Coast Guard members in the Department of Homeland Security.
“They serve and sacrifice ... and in fact, they take the same oath to preserve and protect the Constitution” as other armed forces members, Military Coalition members wrote in a Jan. 16 letter to key legislators on the funding measure. “Our nation owes it to them to ensure they are paid on time.”