This week, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., introduced the “Pay Our Coast Guard Act” to keep paying personnel even during a lapse in appropriations.
The exemption also would cover Coast Guard retired benefits, death gratuities and other related payouts.
Seven other senators — three Republican and four Democrats — already have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill and Senate leaders fast-tracked the legislation so that the chamber could vote on it as soon as next week.
If the shutdown continues another week, it will imperil paychecks scheduled for Jan. 15 to more than 50,000 members of the Coast Guard.
About 42,000 of them are required to report to work without pay because they’re deemed essential employees.
Salaries for members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are not affected by the latest government shutdown because the Department of Defense had its full fiscal year funding approved last fall.
But the Coast Guard is funded through the Department of Homeland Security, one of multiple agencies whose budgets lapsed late last month amid a squabble between the White House and congressional Democrats over President Donald Trump’s controversial southern border wall project.
After a week of warning that the shutdown would halt all Coast Guard paychecks, service officials announced on Dec. 28 that Homeland Security officials had found a work around to cover about $75 million needed for the Dec. 31 pay period.
But they also warned that if the shutdown continued they would be unable to repeat that action for the mid-January paychecks.
On Friday, Trump called his most recent meeting with Democratic leaders on the budget impasse “productive” but also confirmed that he told lawmakers he was prepared to keep the government shutdown “for months or years” if they don’t agree to adequately fund his border wall project.
Read more as this story unfolds here.