Coast Guard to go without pay if shutdown continues through weekend

Petty Officer 3rd Class Bianca Valenzuela pipes colors using a boatswains pipe during a ceremony in Honolulu on March 28, 2018.


By JULIA BERGMAN | The Day | Published: January 8, 2019

NEW LONDON, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — On Tuesday, the 18th day of the partial government shutdown, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, took to the House floor to share stories of Connecticut residents affected by the shutdown like Ethan, of Niantic, a member of the Coast Guard Academy's faculty for the past 11 years.

"Personally, without earning a paycheck, we will find paying for groceries, mortgage, utilities, child care and other essentials nearly impossible," Courtney said, reading from a note he received from Ethan. Courtney did not provide Ethan's last name.

The Coast Guard is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is unfunded during the shutdown, which affects 25 percent of the federal government. Other branches of the military fall within the Department of Defense and remain funded.

The Coast Guard found a way to pay service members through Dec. 31, but if the shutdown continues, they will not be paid on Jan. 15, the date of their next paycheck. That will include cadets at the Coast Guard Academy, who are considered active-duty military personnel and receive a stipend.

The stipend for fourth-class cadets, or freshmen, ranges from $300 to $350 a paycheck. For first-class cadets, or seniors, the stipend ranges from $500 to $600.

There's a bill in the Senate to pay the Coast Guard — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is an original cosponsor — but as of Tuesday night Senate leadership had yet to bring the bill to the floor.

Cadets returned to the academy this past weekend from winter break and will resume classes on Saturday. About 160 of the 260 government-funded nonessential employees at the academy are furloughed. The majority of the remaining 100 employees, who are coming into work, but without pay, are faculty.

Ground maintenance, facilities maintenance, secretarial staff, and support staff are not at work. Active duty military at the academy have been stepping up to make sure everything is taken care of, said Petty Officer Second Class Lauren Laughlin, a spokeswoman for the academy.

Coaches of winter sports are on campus, but those who coach sports during other seasons remain off the job. Janitorial and cafeteria staff are working because they are on contract and those contracts have been paid through the academic year, Laughlin said.

Members of the Coast Guard station in New London continue to report to duty without getting paid.

At the Coast Guard Research & Development Center in New London, more than 75 percent of the staff is furloughed. Of the 73 personnel on staff, 56 have been furloughed, 17 military staff members remain on the job to perform their duties and provide essential services, said Cmdr. Gregory Rothrock, commanding officer of the center.

"Regarding our project portfolio, the Coast Guard continues operations authorized by law that provide for national security or that protect life and property. Activities like routine maintenance to aids to navigation are delayed and/or curtailed, as are some administrative functions, training, and maintenance activities to our surface and aviation fleets. Similarly, projects being conducted by the R&D Center will be paused during the lapse in appropriations," Rothrock said by email.

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