Oregon Senator Leads Push to Pay Coast Guard During Shutdown

The U.S. Coast Guard is the only branch of the military where service members are currently going unpaid during the partial government shutdown, now in its 21st day.

Posted: Jan 11, 2019 10:16 AM
Updated: Jan 11, 2019 10:21 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the partial government shutdown drags into its 21st day, one of Oregon's senators has joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing to provide pay for members of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the only branch of the military to be working unpaid.

“Coast Guard members are risking their lives to keep Oregon’s coasts safe, yet are stressing over missed payments on mortgages, rents, utilities, child care, and more,” said U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. “This is irresponsible and unacceptable, and we need to make sure our military members feel secure in their daily lives while they’re protecting our nation."

Coast Guard employees have been encouraged to "consider holding a garage sale, babysitting, dog-walking or serving as a 'mystery shopper'" in lieu of pay, according to recent reporting by the Washington Post. These suggestions were part of a five-page tip sheet issued by the Coast Guard Support Program to thousands of employees either furloughed or working without pay.

A statement from Merkley's office cited the recent deaths of three fisherman off the Oregon coast, to which USCG rescuers responded. Rescuers like those, according to Merkley, are among the thousands of USCG personnel going unpaid during the shutdown.

"When the fishermen’s boat capsized on the stormy Pacific Ocean, Coast Guard ship and air crews searched through the storm for the fishermen who were thrown overboard. Tragically, the men did not survive," Merkley's office said.

The Pay Our Coast Guard Act promises to appropriate funds in order to pay salaries to members of the Coast Guard, civilian USCG employees, and contractors working with them. It would also authorize payments for death benefits, funeral travel, and housing allowances.

“I recognize that hundreds of thousands of other federal employees are not being paid,” Merkley said, “and I will do everything I can to fight to right that wrong, as well.”

The bill is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of the following lawmakers: Senators John Thune (R-SD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Doug Jones (D-AL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

The bill and a companion measure in the House of Representatives have been introduced, but not yet passed.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 155597

Reported Deaths: 2208
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31877528
Washington21211212
Marion18468285
Clackamas13380175
Lane10258126
Jackson8395112
Umatilla765982
Deschutes595259
Yamhill378364
Linn359056
Malheur335158
Polk306442
Klamath279155
Douglas247454
Benton234416
Josephine234050
Jefferson195828
Coos149119
Union128419
Columbia126521
Wasco122126
Lincoln113220
Hood River106929
Morrow104914
Clatsop7756
Crook77518
Baker6567
Curry4296
Tillamook4142
Lake3766
Harney2736
Grant2231
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman530
Wheeler221
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Cases: 3566914

Reported Deaths: 52158
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles119192321435
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2866072874
Orange2612203917
San Diego2600913284
Santa Clara1106211777
Kern102627827
Fresno953931443
Sacramento932811472
Alameda806681242
Ventura77623844
San Joaquin665691101
Contra Costa62248681
Stanislaus56132946
Tulare47784758
Monterey42138328
San Mateo38998515
San Francisco34260412
Santa Barbara31805411
Solano30024164
Merced28915397
Sonoma28141298
Imperial26903591
Kings21955218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15467209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12834185
Shasta10985174
Butte10962160
El Dorado9095100
Napa903869
Sutter884597
San Benito576759
Yuba573337
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Nevada396074
Tuolumne394659
Mendocino379643
Amador346341
Humboldt318033
Lake315641
Glenn222523
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128737
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
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