Pence thanks Coast Guardsmen in Portsmouth for working without pay during shutdown
By BROCK VERGAKIS | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: February 6, 2019
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Tribune News Service) — While making a pitch for building a wall along the Mexican border, Vice President Mike Pence thanked Coast Guardsmen for recently working without pay during the longest government shutdown in modern American history that was a result of a dispute over funding construction of the wall.
The Coast Guard was the only military branch to go without a paycheck during the shutdown and some Coast Guard families complained about how difficult it was to make ends meet during that time and how it was unfair other military services continued to be paid.
But earlier in the day, Pence told CBS News he doesn't believe the shutdown was a mistake.
"I never think it's a mistake to stand up for what you believe in," Pence told CBS.
Pence addressed about 100 Coast Guardsmen and other Department of Homeland Security officials at Coast Guard Base Portsmouth after taking a brief tour of the Coast Guard Cutter Bear, which frequently goes on drug patrols in waters near Latin America. Pence cited drug shipments as one reason a wall is necessary during remarks that lasted about 20 minutes and veered between what he considers a national security crisis at the southern border and his appreciation for the work the Coast Guard does.
"The nation, frankly, saw your character in high relief in recent weeks when the president took a strong stand for border security during the government shutdown that lasted some 35 days," Pence said. "Let me say to each and every one of you: the president and I couldn't be more grateful or couldn't be more proud of all of our federal employees and their families who rose to the challenge. ... You stood tall, you stood your watch, you did not relent and you have our thanks for your commitment to your mission and your duty. Thank you for standing your post."
Pence did not take questions from reporters and quickly left after delivering his remarks and shaking a few hands. He vowed that he and the entire Trump administration had the backs of the Coast Guard, but did not make any promises or comments about making sure Coast Guardsmen would be paid in the event of another shutdown.
Pence told CBS News he couldn't guarantee there wouldn't be another shutdown if the White House and lawmakers don't come to a new agreement on border security.
However, Pence did promise a barrier of some type would be built along the southern border.
"Walls work. And we need to secure our border — including with a physical barrier — and we will do it one way or another," Pence said.
"We're going to secure our border. that's our promise to each and every one of you. And we're going to support each one of you in the efforts that you make on behalf of the American people"