Lincoln City (Ore.) News Guard
SHUTDOWN: 'Righting the wrong'
By Jeremy bC. Rurk
He isn't in Lincoln City today, but Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley hopes what he is doing in Washington, D.C. will help Coast Guard members in Lincoln County.
On Thursday, Jan. 10, Merkley co-sponsored the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, a bipartisan bill that would pay salaries to members of the U.S. Coast Guard during President Trump’s ongoing shutdown. Coast Guard rescuers, investigators, and staff are among those not being paid during the partial government shutdown.
“Coast Guard members are risking their lives to keep Oregon’s coasts safe, yet are stressing over missed payments on mortgages, rents, utilities, child care, and more,” Merkley said. “This is irresponsible and unacceptable, and we need to make sure our military members feel secure in their daily lives while they’re protecting our nation.
“I recognize that hundreds of thousands of other federal employees are not being paid,” Merkley said, “and I will do everything I can to fight to right that wrong, as well.”
The reality of the Coast Guard’s challenging and dangerous mission that continues regardless of the shutdown was on grim display after three fishermen died off of Oregon’s coast this week. When the fishermen’s boat capsized on the stormy Pacific Ocean, Coast Guard ship and air crews searched through the storm for the fishermen who were thrown overboard. Tragically, the men did not survive.
The bipartisan Pay Our Coast Guard Act appropriates money to pay salaries and allowances to members of the Coast Guard, civilian employees of the Coast Guard, and contractors during a government shutdown. It also authorizes payments for death benefits, funeral travel, and allowances for housing. The bill would only come into effect if there is no interim or full-year appropriation for the Coast Guard.
The bill is co-sponsored by Senators John Thune (R-SD), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Doug Jones (D-AL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).