A bipartisan Senate bill introduced Sept. 8 would include a badly needed provision to ensure members of the Coast Guard continue to receive pay during a government shutdown, an assurance DoD servicemembers already have as Congress increasingly engages in budgetary brinkmanship.
Along with correcting this discrepancy, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022 (S. 4802), which covers the service through FY 2023, includes improvements for Coast Guard families that are critical for retention. With longer times between each Coast Guard authorization than the annual National Defense Authorization Act, the importance of each bill increases.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ranking member on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, acknowledged the importance of this reauthorization.
“The Coast Guard can always be counted on to save American lives, protect our homeland, and keep maritime transportation flowing safely, but it is time we do better for our service members,” Wicker said. “This bill would take a major step toward addressing needs such as deteriorating buildings, outdated equipment, and a lack of adequate funding. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this legislation quickly.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the committee, said the bill “invests in the Coast Guard’s most valuable resource: its people. We must expand training and education opportunities for Coasties and improve housing, child care, and medical services so that the Coast Guard can recruit and retain a cutting edge and diverse workforce.”
Section 256 of the bill includes a provision ensuring Coast Guard pay and allowances continue for both active and reserve component members, as would death gratuities, funeral travel, and the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). This has been a MOAA priority for years, especially after 42,000 Coast Guard members missed paychecks during the last government shutdown.
If passed, the bill will also:
- Increase child care subsidies by 56%
- Expand telemedicine access.
- Require the Coast Guard to examine how to increase access to affordable housing.
- Establish a pilot program to assist members with fertility treatments.
- Increase oversight and reporting on Coast Guard diversity efforts from the 2021 RAND representation report.
- Improve care resources for sexual assault and harassment at when at sea or in remote locations.
As work on this legislation moves forward, MOAA will continue to fight for to ensure all uniformed servicemembers, including members of the U.S. Public Health Service and NOAA, receive pay during a government shutdown.
This year, we could see a big win for our Coast Guard. Please take the time to write your lawmakers and share the importance of this bill.
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