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Baldwin Introduces Bill to Ensure Coast Guard Personnel Are Paid in Event of a Government Shutdown

Legislation comes after 2018 shutdown in which Coasties were not paid, but other DoD personnel did receive pay

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chair of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, Climate Change and Manufacturing, which oversees the Coast Guard, introduced the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, bicameral, bipartisan legislation that would ensure Coast Guard personnel receive pay and allowances in the event of a government shutdown if the members of the Armed Forces receive pay and allowances. The legislation would ensure that the Coast Guard gets the same treatment as the other branches of the armed services if there is a lapse in appropriations. Because the Coast Guard is funded under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), it was left off a previous funding stopgap that covered the Department of Defense (DoD).

“Coast Guard members and their families make sacrifices every day to serve our country, and it is our duty to make sure they always get their paychecks and can put food on the table, regardless of any political fights in Washington,” said Senator Baldwin. “I will always work to avoid unnecessary government shutdowns, but should political brinksmanship ever take us to one, our bipartisan bill will make sure our brave Coast Guard members and their families are not bearing the brunt of it.” 

In the event of a government funding gap in which DoD is funded but DHS is not, this bill would provide, without interruption, pay and allowances to Coast Guard active duty personnel, including reservists who perform active service during the funding gap.

This bill would also provide pay and allowances for Coast Guard civilian personnel and contractors that are providing support to the Coast Guard. Finally, it would provide benefits for Coast Guard active duty personnel and dependents including: death gratuity, reimbursement of authorized funeral travel, dignified transfer of remains, unit memorial services, and temporary continuation of housing allowance for dependents of Coast Guard members who lost their lives on active duty.

The most recent government shutdown started in Dec. 2018, lasting 34 days. During that partial shutdown, DoD had already been funded under supplemental appropriations, but DHS was not. As a result, DoD military personnel were paid during the shutdown, but Coast Guard personnel, who continued to work, did not receive pay. Despite lack of pay and allowances, Coast Guard members continued to serve the nation at home and abroad, in some cases Coast Guard personnel were even working alongside DoD members on shared missions in conflict zones without pay. 

While these brave men and women protected our coasts, facilitated maritime trade and transportation, conducted search and rescue, protected fisheries and living marine resources, and patrolled our maritime borders to conduct migrant and drug interdiction; their families were forced to resort to food pantries and struggled to pay for housing.

Last Congress, as part of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022, Senator Baldwin successfully included legislation to reduce financial burdens for Coast Guard members and their families by increasing support for childcare, affordable housing, and education.