Special Arrangement Pays Active-Duty Coast Guard in December Despite Shutdown

December 31, 2018 5:26 PM
A Coast Guard Cutter Sherman crewmember lowers the national ensign during a ceremony honoring Sherman’s final colors, held the evening before the Sherman was decommissioned in Honolulu, Mar. 28, 2018. Coast Guard photo.

While the Department of Homeland Security lacks funding to operate in Fiscal Year 2019, active duty Coast Guard personnel will receive their regularly-scheduled pay due on Dec. 31.

DHS and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials identified a way to pay active duty Coast Guard personnel and reservists serving during December. DHS is one of several domestic agencies which ran out of money on Dec. 21 when a temporary funding bill expired, causing a partial government shutdown.

“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,” according to a Coast Guard message posted to the service’s blog Coast Guard All Hands.

Funding for more security measures along the U.S. border with Mexico is at the core of why FY 2019 funding for DHS and other agencies was not approved before the fiscal year started on Oct. 1. The Senate and House passed different border wall funding levels, but a compromise has not been reached. The Department of Defense FY 2019 funding was approved by Congress and signed by Trump before the Oct. 1 start to the new fiscal year.

The decision to issue pay for the period ending Dec. 31 comes after several days of media reports highlighting how during the partial federal government shutdown, Coast Guard personnel were the only active duty members of the military not paid for their service.

However, the issuance of pay on Dec. 31 amounts to a temporary solution. If Congress and President Donald Trump do not approve either a funding plan for FY 2019 or another stopgap funding bill by the middle of January, Coast Guard personnel will not receive their next paychecks, according to the Coast Guard.

“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,” according to the Coast Guard blog post.

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

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