Effort to keep Coast Guard paid at risk of being torpedoed by Senate Democrats

Matt Saintsing
January 08, 2019 - 3:28 pm

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew S. Masaschi

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A Hail Mary attempt to get Coast Guardsmen paid on time could sink as Senate Democrats are considering blocking any bill to keep the focus on the continuing government shutdown. 

Sen. John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota (a state that has no coast to guard, btw), reintroduced the Pay Our Coast Guard Act on Jan. 4 with the explicit purpose of ensuring those Coasties who continue to work through the ongoing partial government shutdown will see the direct deposit hit their accounts. 

RELATED: Senate lifeline: Bill introduced to ensure Coast Guard paid during shutdown

The Coast Guard is (not so) technically under the Department of Homeland Security, which is one of the many government agencies experiencing a shutdown. What that means for service members who have a 24/7 mission, which includes counter-narcotic operations that sometimes involves busting cocaine-smuggling sea turtles, is if the shutdown continues past Jan. 11, their pay will be interrupted. 

That’s what Thune is trying to stop, but a few Senate Democrats have thrown their support behind stopping the Senate—once held up as the greatest deliberative body the world has ever seen, but now more closely resembles a turd sandwich—dead in its tracks. 

Photo by State Department

Over the weekend, both of Maryland’s Senators on Twitter urged their colleagues to “block” any bill that doesn’t re-open the government. 

The Democratic duo represents a state where the partial shutdown impacts many federal employees.

A third Senator, Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said he would vote “NO to proceed any legislation in the Senate” until they vote on ending the shutdown.

The House passed legislation to do just that last week, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had yet to call for a vote. If approved by the upper chamber, the bill would go to the White House for the President’s signature. 

But the House plan, which would guarantee to fund for the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, doesn’t give a penny to Trump’s border wall, and even if the Senate got their act together on this, there’s no guarantee Trump would sign it into law. 

The bill would, however, provide some $1.3 billion for “border security.” But those funds couldn’t be used for a southern border wall. 

McConnell said he wouldn’t bring any spending legislation to the Senate floor for a vote that the White House opposes. Two GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), and Cory Gardner (Colo.) said they would vote on the legislation approved by the House. 

“Well, I can’t speak for McConnell, but I would like to see him bring the House-passed bills to the Senate floor,” she said on NBC’s Meet the Press” on Sunday. “We could reopen much of government where there’s no dispute over issues involving certain department like (agriculture), transportation, housing, and interior. Let’s get those reopened while the negotiations continue.” 

“As I said on the night the partial government shutdown began, I do not think shutting down the government is ever the right answer,” Gardner said on Jan. 3.

“We should pass the bipartisan appropriations bill that includes money for border security while we continue to fight for more border security money. Congress needs to take further action on border security, but that work should be done when the government is fully open.” 

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