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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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 193732

Reported Deaths: 2572
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah38352591
Washington25592233
Marion22026306
Clackamas17440214
Lane13007148
Jackson10862139
Deschutes896274
Umatilla820284
Linn492969
Yamhill446376
Klamath441164
Polk375752
Malheur351863
Josephine334570
Douglas327271
Benton310019
Jefferson219837
Coos206633
Columbia174427
Union144823
Lincoln137921
Wasco137728
Hood River118730
Crook111322
Morrow110716
Clatsop9858
Baker95414
Tillamook6493
Curry6469
Grant5095
Lake4517
Harney3448
Wallowa1845
Gilliam631
Sherman581
Wheeler321
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3764405

Reported Deaths: 62573
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123645624067
Riverside2994554594
San Bernardino2967824715
San Diego2785913729
Orange2709835026
Santa Clara1190642096
Kern1091771374
Sacramento1048401686
Fresno1018381688
Alameda879401657
Ventura810011013
San Joaquin732201391
Contra Costa68741805
Stanislaus621421061
Tulare49654839
Monterey43613383
San Mateo42038568
San Francisco36720544
Santa Barbara34337456
Solano32953252
Merced31898460
Sonoma30035320
Imperial28443726
Kings22989246
Placer22679292
San Luis Obispo21308260
Madera16462242
Santa Cruz16264207
Marin14056227
Yolo13910210
Shasta12152226
Butte12026199
El Dorado10168112
Napa987082
Sutter9433112
Yuba626847
San Benito606563
Lassen570624
Tehama557262
Nevada474275
Tuolumne413166
Mendocino410149
Humboldt404641
Amador365847
Lake347643
Glenn239125
Colusa223416
Siskiyou223424
Calaveras212954
Inyo142838
Del Norte13938
Mono12844
Plumas7106
Modoc4994
Mariposa4487
Trinity4005
Sierra1120
Alpine880
Unassigned520
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