'Constitutional Amnesia That Has Swept Washington' Is to Blame for 'Disgraceful' Shutdown, Says Ex-Coast Guard Leader

A former Coast Guard commandant called the 42,000 members of the service who have gone without paychecks because of the partial government shutdown victims of a "manufactured problem that could be solved."

Retired Admiral Thad Allen slammed the impasse and said that Coast Guard men and women are the ones paying the price.

Read more: Trump's former top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, calls shutdown 'completely wrong'

"That in my view is untenable," he told the HuffPost, saying it was "disgraceful" and "insulting."

Allen held the top job in the Coast Guard between 2006 and 2010. On Thursday he met with current servicemen and women at a pop-up food pantry at the Coast Guard Academy.

"It's an extraordinary ask of this political establishment to tell them: 'Go to work, we're not paying you, your families are at risk, and we don't know when it's going to be over.' That's not responsible government."

As the shutdown ends its fourth week, those in the Coast Guard are the only military members working without pay because the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which is one of the government branches affected by the shutdown. The Army and Navy come under the Department of Defense.

There is no end in sight to the shutdown, as President Donald Trump refuses to sign any spending bill that doesn't include $5.7 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a sticking point for the Democrats.

"Senior leaders in this country ought to pay closer attention to the risk that's being created by all of this. Sooner or later, we're going to have to do something about the constitutional amnesia that has swept Washington," Allen said.

Trump postponed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trips to Brussels and Afghanistan, asking her to stay to negotiate an end to the shutdown.

"Due to the shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan has been postponed," Trump's letter said, calling her trip a "public relations event."

On Wednesday, Pelosi called on Trump to postpone his State of the Union Address, or to submit it in writing or deliver it from the Oval Office, because of security concerns and "critical departments hamstrung by furloughs."

Trump also canceled his delegation's trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying in a statement that he made the decision "out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay and to ensure his team can assist as needed."

The shutdown, which is now the longest in U.S. history, has affected about one in five Americans, according to a new poll from The Economist/YouGov released this week.

This story has been updated to include an additional quote from Retired Admiral Thad Allen.