Coast Guard personnel to receive Dec. 31 paychecks despite government shutdown

After some uncertainty, U.S. Coast Guard personnel and retirees should be getting this week’s pay, which is good news.

However, the system put into place that allowed the current checks to go out was a one-time only action, and future paychecks will depend on an act of Congress concerning the federal budget.

That’s according to an update posted on Coast Guard All Hands, the official blog for Coast Guard workers. The post says that meeting payroll in January “will require a fiscal 2019 appropriation, a continuing resolution, or passage of an alternative measure.”

There was some confusion last week as to whether or not Coast Guard members would get paid this week. The All Hands article said that the Coast Guard has no authority to pay its members during a lapse in appropriations.

However, because of the timing of the shutdown and the timing of the pay process, the Department of Homeland Security, which is the Coast Guard’s parent command, was able to determine that it did have the authority to execute the remainder of the December pay and allowances.

Pay or no pay, the Coast Guard will continue to do its job.

“During partial government shutdowns like this one, the Coast Guard continues operations to protect national security, life, property and the environment,” said Coast Guard spokesman Nate Littlejohn.

Littlejohn, who is based in Anchorage, said there will be some changes due to the shutdown.

“Activities like the renewals of merchant documentation and licensing and routine maintenance to aids and to navigation are typically postponed, as are some administrative functions, some training, and some maintenance to our boats, cutters and aircraft,” he said.

As for Coast Guard members, if the shutdown runs long and future paychecks don’t come, Littlejohn said there is support within the Guard.

“In the event that folks will be negatively impacted economically, we do have something called the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance program, which is basically a loan that the Coast Guard can provide to folks who are in a tight spot,” he said. “But we’re all here for each other during this difficult time.”

Maggie Wall is a reporter at KMXT in Kodiak.

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