In July, the House of Representatives approved by voice vote Coast Guard reauthorization legislation that included language to ensure paychecks would continue if there was another government shutdown.
With the specter of another possible shutdown on the horizon, the Senate version of that bill is still sitting in the upper chamber, waiting for a vote.
The Senate today passed and President Trump signed a continuing resolution to keep government funded through Dec. 20, setting up a traditional pre-Christmas fight over appropriations. The last short-term spending bill, passed in September, expired today.
When the government shut down from Dec. 22, 2018, until Jan. 25, 2019, the only military branch to be included in the paycheck withholding was the Coast Guard because it’s under the Department of Homeland Security instead of the Defense Department.
The Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, which helped feed Coast Guard families with more than a million pounds of food during the 35-day shutdown, is getting ready to do so again. “We’re not going to let people who have no dog in this fight suffer because two guys in Washington can’t get along,” president Don Cox told WGBH. “That’s basically what it comes down to.”
The nonprofit, which set up several food pantries in New England last time, will have their mobile “empowerment centers” at the ready, offering federal workers food, clothing, pet food and more.
Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association Executive Director Randy Reid told HSToday that members “know from last year how things can turn upside-down very quickly.”
“We’re engaging them, letting them know that new guidance from Coast Guard headquarters gives us the full authority to fundraise and assist as needed when we fulfill their legal guidance,” Reid said. “We worked very closely with many local nonprofits last year such as the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation and the Coast Guard Foundation to assist families in need during times like these.”
“Obviously, we do not look forward to another government shutdown, but we will continue to do our best to partner with any group or association to help ease the burden on our Coast Guard families,” he added.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) wrote in an op-ed at The Hill just before Veterans Day that his colleagues needed to vote on the reauthorization bill to mandate that pay for the Coast Guard would continue and “enshrine parity across the military.”
“The unequal treatment of the U.S. Coast Guard was a betrayal of our nation’s armed forces… passage of this simple legislation would show that when Americans say ‘thank you for your service’ we actually mean it,” Wicker wrote.