A House Democrat introduced a bill Wednesday that mirrors a Senate version introduced earlier this week that would ensure the Coast Guard is funded throughout any government shutdown like the one now over President Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
Rep. Peter De Fazio, D-Oregon, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, introduced the “Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act” It mirrors a bipartisan bill introduced earlier in the week by Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, which would fund the Coast Guard through the Treasury Department how ever long the partial shutdown lasts.
Unlike other branches of the military, which are under the Department of Defense and not impacted by the shutdown, the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, one of the agencies whose funding lapsed Dec. 22.
In all, more than a quarter of the federal workforce, or about 800,000 employees, are impacted by the impasse between Trump and congressional Democrats over whether the budget contains the billions of dollars he wants for the wall.
But unlike many of those employees, the Coast Guard’s almost 42,000 active duty members must work regardless of whether they’re being paid or not. They weren’t supposed to receive their checks on Dec. 31, but a loophole was found by Homeland Security officials in the 11th hour. This is not the case for the pay period ending Jan. 15.
“The Coast Guard monitors roughly 93,571 miles more than the area included in the President’s proposed border wall, and Coast Guard service members seize 1,214 pounds of cocaine alone every day,” Rep. John Garamendi, D-California, said in a statement. “Many Coast Guard officers are forced to live paycheck to paycheck, and it’s unforgivable to ask them to continue their work without compensation.”
If passed, the bill would also ensure the Coast Guard’s 6,200 reservists and 8,500 civilian workers are also paid, according to a press release from DeFazio’s office.