Home » Budget Industry » Government Shutdown Puts Coast Guard Heavy Icebreaker Program at Risk

Government Shutdown Puts Coast Guard Heavy Icebreaker Program at Risk

USCGC Healy (WAGB-20), a polar-class icebreaker, transits Southeast Alaskan waters on Nov. 24, 2018. US Coast Guard Photo

This post was updated with additional information about the partial federal government shutdown.

A looming partial government shutdown will not directly affect the Department of Defense operations, but several agencies that work with DoD will either have to stop or severely curtail their activities.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which works closely with the Pentagon, especially the Navy in patrolling offshore waters, is among the agencies that will be without funding without an appropriations deal. The Coast Guard receives funding through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has yet to receive its Fiscal Year 2019 budget appropriations.

Congress and President Donald Trump again failed to reach an agreement on FY 2019 funding for the Department of Homeland Security by a midnight Friday deadline, spurring a partial government shutdown.

Under a shutdown, approximately 420,000 federal employees, including 42,000 Coast Guard employees, will be required to work without pay. An additional 380,000 federal employees will be sent home without pay until a funding deal is approved, according to a report released by the Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Congress and President Donald Trump approved the appropriations for DoD in September, just before FY 2019 started on October 1.

The Coast Guard will likely have to curtail some operations. Civilian employees deemed non-essential would be sent home, while 42,000 essential personnel, including active duty Coast Guard members, will have to work without pay during the shutdown.

In the short-term the Coast Guard will continue keeping waterways free of ice, patrolling waters to stop illegal drug and human trafficking, and rescuing boaters experiencing difficulties on the water.

In the long-term, though, a shutdown or continuing resolution (CR) can hamper the Coast Guard’s ongoing plan to modernize its fleet of cutters, including the heavy icebreaker. If Congress and the President approve an FY 2019 appropriations bill, then programs such as building the new icebreaker would likely continue.

However, if Congress and Trump opt to fund DHS at 2018 levels through a CR, the Coast Guard’s ability to start new programs could be severely limited. Typically, agencies operating under a CR are not allowed to start new spending programs.

The Coast Guard’s request to spend $750 million to start the heavy icebreaker program could be at risk unless Congress grants special permission to start the project, Mark Cancian, a senior advisor for the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, previously told USNI News.

Meanwhile, other agencies who interact with DoD would also find their activities stymied by a shutdown. Department of State, which is also waiting for approval of its FY 2019 spending, has offices that review proposed international arms sales and monitors nuclear non-proliferation treaties. It’s unclear how these jobs will be affected by a shutdown or cap on spending under a CR.

The DHS budget is at the core of the current shutdown fight. Trump wants money – roughly $5 billion – to pay for building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. The House DHS appropriations bill originally included this funding but at the expense of other programs, including the Coast Guard’s long-sought new heavy icebreaker.

The Senate’s DHS appropriation bill included more modest levels of border security funding, but not money directed for building a wall. Other programs, including the Coast Guard’s icebreaker, were fully funded.

Instead of tackling the differences between the two bills before FY 2019 started on October 1, congressional leaders opted to temporarily fund DHS and a host of other domestic agencies including Department of State, Department of Justice, and others until after the November midterm elections.

Now, Trump appears set on not signing any appropriations bill unless it includes funding for a border wall. A series of tweets he sent out Friday morning spelled out his position.

A statement released by President Donald Trump on Twitter Friday morning.

The temporary funding, called a continuing resolution, was extended once, and that deadline expires at midnight on December 21. Without either another CR or an appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed by the president, funding for DHS, State, Justice, and other domestic agencies runs out.

Ultimately, Cancian thinks Congress will fund the heavy icebreaker because there is strong bipartisan support for the project on Capitol Hill. Even with the current threat of a shutdown or CR, Cancian said the icebreaker program still has a good shot of being funded. He doubts Congress will grant Trump his full $5 billion request for a wall. If there is a compromise, Cancian said the money would presumably be freed-up to pay for other projects, such as the icebreaker.

“The chances are good but very good in the long term,” Cancian told USNI News about icebreaker funding. “Congress is concerned about the opening up of the Arctic.”

  • jim

    Government shutdown is only a threat to those in government. They are
    at their most vulnerable. Look at them cave in. The general population
    is rooting for a shut down.

    • Ed L

      Congress last was supposed to be the 14 th of December and now the self entitle political are stuck in session. Which I hope they stay in session until December 31, 2018 at 11:59 pm. There are billions in Discretionary spending out there that congress, DHS and ETA in etc. etc. have available for spending

      • old guy

        1. Congressmen, (women and children, too) should ONLY be paid when they are in attendance, as originally stated.
        2, Home time is to be used (as it is) to get reelected, but NOT paid.
        3.Travel and staffs should be compensated by the represented state.
        4. Living costs while in attendance should be reimbursed at current government per diem rates
        5. SENATE should be limited to 2-6 year terms.
        6, HOUSE terms should be increased to 3 years, and limited to 4 terms.
        7. (A REAL DREAM) Since it is the House of Representatives the percentage of Lawyers in Congress should be equal to or less than the percentage of them in the general population.

    • old guy

      AMEN. Anyway it only applies to non-entitlement programs, which is about 25% of the budget. But beware, it will close the Washington monument, as it did the last time.

      • lightray9a

        And since all but 7 agencies have been funded, only 20% of the 25% at that.

        • old guy

          EXACTLY. In addition, all the weaping and moaning is silly partisan hoopla:
          1. No pay has EVER been lost, due to a shutdown. This amounts to a PAID.leave for affected employees. What a freebee!
          2.1he paychecks affected are for the period STARTING at the shutdown, so the current and next pay period are to be paid ON TIME.
          3. This is an excellant opportunity to evaluate the lost service, determine its value, and make DESIRABLE cuts, as applicable.

    • Duane

      My you are deluded in your tiny little blow-it-all-up bubble.

      Per Business Insider – a GOP friendly publication:

      “Nearly two-fifths of conservatives think it would be acceptable (or very acceptable) for the government to shut down under a united, one-party government, according to a new INSIDER poll. Overall, 60% of respondents wouldn’t tolerate a shutdown.

      These figures come days after President Donald Trump said he’d be “proud” to shut down the government if the Democrats don’t yield to him the $5 billion needed to begin building the border wall.”

      Meaning even a minority of conservatives don’t want a government shutdown, and a huge majority of Americans opposes a shutdown over the border wall.


      • old guy

        This must be from the meaningless babble Duane. The credible one would never post such silliness.

  • old guy

    Best thing that could happen.
    Then, maybe it would give NAVSEA 05 time to see what REAL icebreakers look like. There were 3 in Murmansk, in 2006, when I was last there, last.

  • Secundius

    Tropical storm “Michael” caused ~$863-Million USD in Infrastructure Damage to the USCG. Which the US Congress hasn’t allocated funds to fix. Which means the ~$750-Million USD the USCG set aside to pay for a New Icebreaker…

  • Curtis Conway

    The Polar Security Cutters (Heavy Icebreakers) will be equivalent to a ‘Command Ship’ capability, and they must be able to operate. For the Arctic/Antarctic, particularly in their seasonal cold period, they will most likely be the only vessel present, and capable to render assistance at any time. The ‘Whims of Congress’ should not shut down operations of these vessels during these times exposing human presence/activity to danger. Operational funding vehicles will have to be available to the US Navy to keep the Polar Security Cutters underway in the winter time when such instances occur.

    • Secundius

      Not just the US Congress, but the President too…

      ( https : // www . vox . com / policy-and-politics/2018/9/12/17859594/hurricane-fema-ice-trump-immigration )

    • Duane

      It is the whims of an insane POTUS that is causing this disruption.

      • Curtis Conway

        It defies logic for someone to IGNORE the fact that the budget for defense, and Homeland Security is ignored by a PARTY, not POTUS. The fact that the reason the cutters that make us safer and defend of the country, are held up by Senate Democrats and some Republicans, is owned by POTUS is beyond me.

        • Secundius

          Keep in mind that virtually every Defense Appropriation Bill passed by the US Congress, since Donald Trump has been President. Were by “Super Majority Votes” (290 Votes or greater), to circumvent Donald Trumps executive power of the Veto…

          • old guy

            That reflects ONLY the power of the LOBBYISTS. As I have posted, sadly, before,”We have the best Congress that money can buy,”
            IF this were not true, we would not be buying LCS, DD1000, V-22, F-22, LPD-17, etc. etc. etc.

        • Duane

          You’re nuts, sorry, but you’re just nuts. Just like all the other Trumpkins.

          The Senate passed a bipartisan bill to extend government funding til February 7 after Trump said he would sign such a bill on Tuesday. The House was prepared to pass that bill too.

          Then after Trump caught heck from a couple of conservative talk show hosts (!!!) he changed his mind on Thursday. Then the GOP-controlled House voted for a CR that funds Trump’s stupid wall, knowing there were not enough votes in the Senate to pass it. There were not enough votes in the Senate to pass it (not even enough GOP votes!) on Friday evening. The Senate could not even produce enough votes – 50 plus if necessary the VP – to even bring the bill to the floor for debate.

          Trump entirely caused the shutdown. He said on camera for the whole world to see that he was proud to shut down the government, and that he personally took responsibility and would not blame the Democrats.

          He is a bald faced maniacal liar. If you agree with him, so are you.

          • Curtis Conway

            You know Duane, there are times when I wonder if you are kin to the Kennedys. You think just like them.

          • Duane

            That makes no sense at all. Correctly identifying Trump as the lying (over 7,000 well documented lies in less than two years as POTUS), stupid, vain, traitorous (defends Russia, attacks the US, was elected with Russian help, owes his finances to Russian oligarchs who kept him afloat for many years with laundered real estate purchases at Trump’s properties, and whose own attorney provided corroborated evidence, including tape recorded conversations with Trump, that Trump was still trying to get Putin to approve his Trump Tower Moscow project DURING the 2016 primary election campaign, including an offer of a free $50M penthouse condo to Putin personally), and just plain ridiculous destructive childlike tantrums .. has absolutely not a thing to do with Kennedys.

            But you do out yourself as a hopelessly stuck in the 50 year ago mindset that in 2018 and going forward that there is any thing to do with politicians of 50 years ago.

            A crazy traitorous leader is not and should not even be a partisan thing at all. It was Republicans who finally forced Nixon out of office 44 years ago … and it will likely be Republicans who force Trump out of office next year … or else the voters will do it for them the year after that.

          • Curtis Conway

            Yeah sure . . . and Teddy just gave a young lady a ride home.

  • Duane

    Donald Trump, one week ago:

    “I am proud to shut down the government for border security,” Trump told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last week, in front of TV cameras at the White House.

    “Because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it,”

    Like everything Trump says or does, it comes with a 30-second long expiration date.

  • Frank Blangeard

    According to the Global Warming people there will soon be no ice in the arctic to break. And take a good look at a map of Alaska. There is virtually nothing up there in the north of Alaska to worry about. Just wait for spring and the ice will melt.

  • DaSaint

    Another reason the USCG needs to be funded with DOD and not with DHS.

    • Secundius

      Only one problem with that. IF funded by DoD, the USCG is restricted by the Knott Amendment of 1878 (i.e. Posse Comitatus Act). Preventing the USGC from doing it’s job, Enforcement of US Laws…

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    So we delay a program a few days so government workers can have another paid vacation? Oh cry me a trail.

  • thebard3

    If there’s a shutdown, then there’s no functioning IRS to withhold taxes from my paycheck?

    • Secundius

      Don’t hold your breath on that one! IRS is an Enforcement Arm of the US Government. And IS considered an Essential Service…

    • old guy

      You should live so long.

  • Rexford L

    The Healy isn’t a Polar class ship. That belongs to the Polar Sea and Polar Star.

  • David Perez

    I share the belief that producing more Ice Breakers is critical -the reality is, and has been, over the course of more than 20 years the US has failed to support the acquisition of Ice Breakers. A long history quite actually, of failed support. But your article tries to pin this one Govt Shutdown on sinking the program?? The shut down is temporary – The effort to continue the program among current leadership is philosophical and strategic. I look forward to reading an article of protest from Ben after Democrat Leadership eliminates funding not by a “temporary shut down” but through statute once they’re back inpower.

  • Western

    Show me a time when a federal employee did not receive full reimbursement of their paycheck after a government shutdown.
    This is all Kabuki Theatre. Oh, the sky is falling, you won’t get your icebreaker. Gimmie a break.

    • Secundius

      What about the Days and/or Weeks he/she’s NOT getting paid!/? Creditors STILL want their money, and simply don’t care if your Financially Strapped for Cash…

      • old guy

        SILLY, SILLY, SILLY. First of all, the current periods are to be paid. The first period to be DELAYED, starts the first day of shutdownm so, please stop sounding like the anti-Prez sycophants, and stick to FACT, your specilty. I am apalled.

        • Secundius

          My Wife, Sister and two Daughters all work of the US Government! And none of them are being paid, until AFTER the Shutdown. It’s a matter of weathering out the Storm and the Creditors until that happens…

          • old guy

            Nonsense, I just checked someone inside and he confirmed what I said,

          • Secundius

            Good for you! But THIS Isn’t the First US Government Shutdown that my family have lived through, and in the Cases of my Daughters their last either…

          • old guy

            So what? Are they living so hand to mouth that 4 week delay of income is a disaster? I seriously doubt it. Federal incomes are high, and reserves should ge more than adequate. I hope that this shut down reveals all the bloat in Fed employment. I am very well acquainted with the amount in the Social Security offices in Baltimore, because a former employee of mine took over the data processing division, but left after only 8 months because he could not take the inefficiencies and doping off of most of the union represented workers.

          • Secundius

            How many Children and Grandchildren do you have?/! I have Five Children and Seven Grandchildren. The youngest of my Children is STILL going too school. Two of my Children and Myself are Disabled Veterans. Three of my Daughter In Laws are also Veterans. And none of my Serving Children and Myself have ever asked for Governments Assistance of Any Kind including Military. Also keep in mind that Both Myself and Wife are Iron Worker Union Members and my Daughter and her Husband are also Union Members. Though they are a “Mixed Marriage”, she being Iron Worker Union and He being Plumbers Union…

          • old guy

            I am almost 92 years old.
            LET’SEE. AT LAST COUNT, I HAVE 6 DAUGHTERS AND 1 SON. The next generation is comprised of 8 grand daughters and 7 grandsons. At the great child level, I have 5 BOYS AND 3 GIRLS.
            WOTTA BUNCH.
            I am a WW2 vet. I have lost one son-in-law in Honduras. My son is an Air force vet and his wife is retd CPO Arabic/Farsi interpreter. ,
            I, Myself am retired, after 30 years, as the Navy’s Director of S&T,
            I have been a member of the Retail Clerks Union the Aircraft Workers Union and the Association of Machinists and Tool; and Die Makers.
            And not a whine from any of us, so cut the CXXP.

            GOD BLESS AMERICA and our President, whoever he may be.

          • Secundius

            Go back to wearing that “Little Yellow School Bus On Your Head” again. I suspect I can find that photo on Facebook in less than 20-minutes…

    • Horn

      Contractors normally do not get reimbursed after a government shutdown.

      • old guy

        They do if they worked on the program. But, they must apply to thePM

  • Lee

    I can’t tell if you’re 14 or 40 with this kind of comment…

    • muzzleloader

      If you were taken aback I apologize. If you are new to this site or an infrequent visitor, you are not familiar with Duanne. He constantly insults people he does not know with mean spirited and totally uncalled for rants because they disagree with him.
      Duanne has a special contempt for anyone who supports President Trump, whom he has a visceral hatred of.
      The editors never call him on anything he says, for some reason.

      • old guy

        The president is doing a great job, which would be even better if he didn’t have these vermin gnawing at his ankles. As I have posted before, I would not care for him, as a friend, for many reasoms; but as a President he is nonpariel.

  • Secundius

    Actually one of the few times I actually agree with “Duane”! Meet “Ten Second Don”…

    ( https : // youtu . be / Jk7WuvNKe _ g )

  • Secundius

    It’s a Slow Day, and you just happened to Post a Comment within the last 20 minutes. Before that, I was talking with someone on “Guns . com”…

  • Eric Arllen

    Three thoughts:
    1. If this program were so darned critical it could be declared to be essential, in whole or in part.
    2. At issue is $5.7B, 57/41,000th or 0.0014 of the federal budget. So please don’t cry me a river over the Billions being wasted on the wall. This isn’t even leakage or evaporation. The percentage is about the same as the amount of Sen. Warren’s highly vaunted Native American heritage.
    3. If this budget impasse were so damaging to the fate of the nation our elected representatives could rise above this Kabuki and swallow and spit out the problem. The real issue is President Trump is living rent free in the hollow head’s of his political opponents. Nearly all the Congressional wall opponents voted to fund similar border security measures in recent years during the last administration. It isn’t as if there isn’t a rich history of Congress’ throwing our money at odd, even strange, programs.

    So, please, Congress, just get over it, build the damn wall and move on to your next stupid thing.

    • old guy

      My most negative comment on your post, RIGHT ON, EXACTLY!

  • RobM1981

    Mr. Werner,

    If the program isn’t being cancelled, then it’s inappropriate to say that the program is ‘at risk.’ It might be at risk of a delay, or even a cost over-run as things are wound down and re-started, but the ice breaker is absolutely, 100% NOT At Risk. It will be built.