Rep. Peter DeFazio, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, announced that his legislation to ensure members of the United States Coast Guard—our nation’s fifth military service—receive paychecks in the event of a federal government shutdown was approved during a Committee markup. The original legislation, the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act of 2019 (H.R. 367), was adopted as part of a manager’s amendment to the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019, advancing out of Committee on a voice vote.
Earlier this year, more than 41,000 active duty Coast Guard members, 6,200 reservists, and 8,500 civilian personnel were forced to go weeks without receiving a paycheck as a result of the longest-ever federal government shutdown (35 days). This was the first time in more than 140 years that a member of the Armed Services was not paid during a lapse in government appropriations. According to the Coast Guard, nearly one-third of all active duty Coast Guard members do not have enough money in an emergency savings account to cover one month’s worth of expenses.
“The federal government may have been partially shut down earlier this year, but the brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard were still one hundred percent on the job—in the dead of winter no less—carrying out life-saving rescues, interdicting drugs at sea, and doing whatever was necessary to keep our coastal communities safe,” said DeFazio. “It’s absolutely outrageous that our country held their paychecks hostage due to a partisan fight in the nation’s capital that had nothing to do with the Coast Guard or its missions. I want to make sure this hostage-taking never happens again, and that our country properly honors the members of the Coast Guard who prove each and every day just how critical they are to the safety and well-being of our nation.”
The amendment ensures that if other armed services are paid during any lapse in appropriations that the Coast Guard will also be paid. The Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act provides for:
– Pay and allowances for active duty and reserve members of the Coast Guard;
– Pay and allowances for civilian employees of the Coast Guard;
– Pay and allowances for contractors of the Coast Guard;
– Payment of death gratuities with respect to members of the Coast Guard;
– Payment or reimbursement of authorized funeral travel and travel related to the dignified transfer of remains and unit memorial services with respect to members of the Coast Guard;
– Temporary continuation of a basic housing allowance for dependents of members of the Coast Guard dying while on active duty; and
Coast Guard retired pay and benefits.