January 16, 2019

Kilmer: Pay the Coast Guard and End the Government Shutdown

Today, Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) called for an end to the government shutdown and for Congress to immediately provide pay to members of the Coast Guard.   

“The men and women putting their lives on the line for our country shouldn’t pay the price for the failure of leadership in Washington, DC. Our entire country counts on the Coast Guard to protect our maritime borders and keep us safe. In Washington state, folks who go out boating or fishing for work or for recreation do so with the peace of mind that comes with knowing the Coast Guard is keeping the watch and is ready to assist them,” Kilmer said. “Many of the Coast Guardsmen serving in our region have made it their home. They and their families make personal sacrifices to keep us safe. Serving without pay should not be one of them. They deserve better than a government that doesn’t pay them because it is shut down over a policy disagreement. There should be action to improve security - not just at the southern border but at our ports of entry.  But progress on that is hindered while the government is shutdown. It is time for the Senate and the president to reopen the government by passing the bipartisan agreements currently on the table that could reopen the government right now so our servicemembers receive their paychecks.”

Kilmer has co-sponsored three separate pieces of legislation that would protect the Coast Guard from the government shutdown. He is a co-sponsor of the Pay Our Coast Guard Act (H.R. 350), the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act (H.R. 367), and an appropriations bill (H.R. 421) that would fund the Coast Guard while the government is shutdown. 

He also co-wrote a bill with Senator Brian Schatz that would protect federal workers from eviction, foreclosure and other negative financial consequences of working without pay.

Yesterday, members of the Coast Guard did not receive their regularly scheduled paychecks because of the federal government shutdown, which, at 26th days, is the longest in the nation’s history.

According to a statement from Admiral Karl Schultz, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, this is the first time in the nation’s history that servicemembers in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces have not been paid during a lapse in government appropriations. In the statement to the men and women of the Coast Guard, Adm. Schultz said in part: “The strength of our Service has, and always will be, our people. You have proven time and again the ability to rise above adversity. Stay the course, stand the watch, and serve with pride. You are not, and will not, be forgotten.”

There are more than 2,600 people serving in the Coast Guard in Washington and more than 45,000 nationwide who are now serving without pay in an Active, Reserve or civilian capacity.