The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hosted a hearing Dec. 12 on “Expanding Opportunities, Challenges, and Threats in the Arctic: A Focus on the U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Strategic Outlook.”
Throughout this hearing, the critical role the U.S. Coast Guard plays in our national security was highlighted repeatedly. Despite the vital role they play in securing our nation’s shores, the Coast Guard is the only military branch in modern history that has gone without timely pay during a government shutdown.
Sadly, the threat of a government shutdown and going without pay once again looms over the brave men and women of the Coast Guard. No member of our military should ever live in fear of not being paid. This is why The American Legion supports Section 221 of S. 2297 Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019. This provision, known as the “Pay Our Coast Guard” provision, ensures appropriations for Coast Guard pay in the event an appropriations act expires. The American Legion exists to serve and advocate for our nation’s veterans. Last January, our organization gave out more than $1 million in grants to junior enlisted Coast Guard families with children at home, those whose lives are most affected when pay is interrupted. However, veteran service organizations and nonprofits should not have to continually backstop the federal government simply because Congress cannot pass a budget.
In a recent letter to Congress, I wrote that it is imperative we address this issue permanently, as it is becoming an unacceptable norm for the men and women that protect our nation. Congress must act now to pass the Coast Guard Authorization Act.