U.S. Coast Guard Members Miss Paychecks for First Time in History as Government Shutdown Drags On

For the first time in history, tens of thousands of U.S. Coast Guard members will miss their paychecks as the longest-ever government shutdown drags into its fourth week.

In a statement on Tuesday, Admiral Karl Schultz confirmed that Coast Guard staffers will not be receiving their January 15 mid-month paychecks due to the partial government shutdown. "Today you will not be receiving your regularly scheduled mid-month paycheck," he wrote. "To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time in our Nation's history that servicemembers in a U.S. Armed Force have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations."

Schultz added, "I recognize the anxiety and uncertainty this situation places on you and your family, and we are working closely with service organizations on your behalf."

A partial government shutdown went into effect on December, after President Donald Trump refused to sign a stopgap measure that would have allowed the government to continue running through the New Year because it didn't provide funding for his proposed border wall—one of Trump's key campaign promises. Affecting around one-quarter of all U.S. government departments, the shutdown, which entered its 25th day on Tuesday, has left approximately 800,000 federal staffers furloughed or working without pay.

The U.S. Coast Guard is the only military branch that will be hit by the partial government shutdown, with 42,000 active-duty members going without pay, as they fall under the Department of Homeland Security. The rest of the military are under the jurisdiction of the still-funded Department of Defense.

Schultz also announced that the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) received $15 million in donations from financial services group United States Automobile Association (USAA) that will be distributed to those requiring assistance in the military and civilian workforce with the help of the American Red Cross. "I am grateful for the outpouring of support across the country, particularly in local communities, for our men and women," he said. "It is a direct reflection of the American public's sentiment towards their United States Coast Guard; they recognize the sacrifice that you and your family make in service to your country."

The U.S. Coast Guard distributed a one-time emergency payment to all 42,000 active-duty service members at the end of last year, on December 31. At the time, members were warned that a January 15 paycheck was not guaranteed. "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," the U.S. Coast Guard said in a blog post on December 28.

A bipartisan bill, Pay Our Coast Guard Act, was introduced earlier this month to ensure Coast Guard staffers, civilian employees and contractors will be paid throughout the rest of the shutdown. "Hundreds of thousands of federal employees and their families are being harmed by the partial government shutdown," Republican Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement.

"This situation is especially unfair for those who must work without pay, including members of the Coast Guard who continue to perform critical national security and lifesaving duties without knowing when they will receive their next paycheck."

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President Donald Trump visits with personnel at U.S. Coast Guard Station Lake Worth Inlet in Riviera Beach, Florida, on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018. America’s 42,000 active duty coast guard missed their paychecks on Tuesday due to the government shutdown. Getty/Mandel Ngan
U.S. Coast Guard Members Miss Paychecks for First Time in History as Government Shutdown Drags On | U.S.