50,000 Coast Guard Retirees May Miss Pay if Shutdown Continues

Officer's combination cover, sword, white gloves and medal rack laying upon an American flag. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Officer's combination cover, sword, white gloves and medal rack laying upon an American flag. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

As the partial federal government shutdown enters its fourth week, another group is about to get hit in the pocketbook: retirees of the Coast Guard.

The 50,000 annuitants on the Coast Guard's rolls will see their first missed check Feb. 1 if a budget agreement is not reached or another arrangement made, a service spokesman confirmed to Military.com.

"In order for the Coast Guard to pay its active-duty, reserve, civilian and retired members, the Service will require an FY19 appropriation, a continuing resolution, or passage of an alternative measure," Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride said in a statement.

Related: No Pay for Coast Guard Members Likely on Jan. 15

As an active-duty Coast Guardsman, McBride himself will miss his first paycheck Tuesday if the status quo continues.

The partial shutdown, which began Dec. 22, was originally expected to affect end-of-year paychecks for all members of the Coast Guard.

But active-duty service members saw a last-minute save due to "extensive research and legal analysis," Coast Guard officials announced Dec. 28. A determination was made that the service had the authority to dole out the remainder of pay and allowances for the month, despite the lapse in appropriations.

The Coast Guard, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, worked hard to make sure that those on the retired rolls could continue to receive their paychecks as long as possible.

"In spite of the government shutdown, the U.S. Coast Guard has identified essential personnel who shall continue to report to work; they will be responsible for ensuring the retiree and annuitant payroll for USCG, [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] and [Public Health Service] is run and distributed on time," states a message posted to the Coast Guard pay and personnel center Dec. 26. "As such, you may expect timely delivery of your pay on 31 December, 2018."

But without a new injection of funds, the next monthly pay installment is halted.

Legislation introduced in the House and Senate this month would provide pay for active-duty Coast Guardsmen as well as contractors and civilian workers out of unappropriated U.S. Treasury funds in the event of a continued shutdown. It would also provide pay for any furloughed civilian workers and "such sums [as] are necessary to provide for Coast Guard retired pay."

The legislation still awaits passage, however.

In the Senate, the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, introduced Jan. 4, was assigned to the Senate Legislative Calendar after reading; in the House, the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act of 2019 was introduced Jan. 9 and assigned to the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where it remains.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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