Comments by Jim Campbell
December 29th, 2018
The United States Coast Guard is essential for the protection of America, from both air and sea.
While politicians quibble about the need for building a wall on the border of Mexico, it’s the Coast Guard that interdicts those trying to smuggle illegal aliens and drugs into our country.
Trump stepped in on Wednesday, calling on top lawyers and staffers to determine if the Coast Guard could make payroll despite being included in the shutdown that has impacted about 25 percent of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the Coast Guard.
Military personnel under the Department of Defense are not included in the shutdown, because their appropriations were approved earlier in Congress.
Officials said that Trump was keen to find a “way we can fix this” as news media stories about the Coast Guardsmen’s plight started to pile up.
At his urging, the Office of Management and Budget, DHS and the Coast Guard determined that the rules governing pay to Coast Guard forces requires it be made through the end of the year.
To make it, the lawyers said that unused funding could be tapped for pay.
The service had a bit more than the needed $75 million left over from its past continuing resolution appropriation, enough to make this month’s last payroll check.
“The president is trying to make the shutdown as painless as possible for workers, and this case proved it,” said an official.
The administration also sped up check writing in other cases and was able to deliver this week a payroll check to furloughed federal employees for time worked up to the shutdown, which began Dec. 22.
In a email to Coast Guard forces, Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Ray said, “This is outstanding news for our military workforce.”
In explaining the temporary solution for the next paycheck, though not subsequent checks should the shutdown drag on, the Coast Guard’s All Hands blog wrote:
- “Will Coast Guard members get paid on Dec. 31? Yes, the Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Coast Guard have identified a way to pay our military workforce on Dec. 31, 2018.
- This one-time action applies to military members that served on active duty in the month of December and those reserve military members that drilled prior to the lapse in appropriation.”
- “If you were an active duty military member in December, then you will receive your monthly paycheck on Dec. 31, 2018.
- That paycheck will include all of the normal pay and allowance benefits (e.g. basic pay, BAH, BAS, etc.).”
- “If you were a reservist that served on active duty during the month of December, you will also receive your monthly paycheck on Dec. 31, 2018 and it will include all of your normal pay and allowance entitlements.”
- “Finally, if you were a reservist that conducted reserve training prior to Dec. 21, 2018, then you will receive the appropriate pay and allowance entitlements on Dec. 31, 2018.”
- “Will I get paid on Jan. 15? This approval only covers the Dec. 31, 2018 paycheck.
- It does not guarantee a paycheck on Jan. 15, 2019.
- Meeting active duty and reserve military payroll for January 2019 will require a fiscal year 2019 appropriation, a continuing resolution, or passage of an alternative measure.”
- “Why the change from earlier guidance that indicated the Coast Guard military members would not be paid on Dec. 31?
- Generally, the Coast Guard lacks the authority to pay its members during a lapse in appropriations.
- The circumstances of this lapse are unique because of the timeline of the lapse in relation to the military pay process.
- Ultimately, extensive research and legal analysis between the Coast Guard, DHS, and OMB determined the Coast Guard has the authority to execute the remainder of pay and allowances for December.”
- “Will retirees get paid? Retirees will get paid Dec. 31. However if this lapse in appropriations continues into February, they may not get paid their future installments.
- VA payments should not be affected by this lapse in appropriations.”