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COOS COUNTY — Congressman Peter DeFazio is fighting for U.S. Coast Guard members to get paid during the government shutdown.

On Wednesday, the U.S House of Representatives sent out a press release detailing efforts from DeFazio, who is also the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He introduced legislation that would “provide funding for the Coast Guard and ensure that active duty and reserve members of the Coast Guard are paid during the government shutdown,” the release said.

“Members of the Coast Guard are the only members of the United States military not being paid for their critical and continuing operations,” the release stated, pointing out that the shutdown is impacting over 41,000 active duty Coast Guard members, 6,200 reservists, and 8,500 civilian personnel.

“According to the Coast Guard, an estimated 31 percent of active duty Coast Guard members do not have enough money in an emergency savings fund to cover one month’s worth of expenses,” the release said.

“President Trump and his Mar-a-Lago cronies may not have trouble ‘adjusting’ if they miss a paycheck, but for thousands of Oregon families, a paycheck means a mortgage payment, childcare, or a medical bill,” said Congressman Peter DeFazio in the release. “While the President obsesses over a wall that experts agree will not make our nation safer, he is ignoring the men and women who protect our coastlines every day. The Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act will provide financial stability to these men and women by ensuring they get paid despite the government shutdown.”

Congressman Kurt Shrader joined his voice with DeFazio’s, adding that Oregon is also mourning the loss of three fishermen this week from a capsized fishing boat that the Coast Guard “risked life and limb to save.”

“We are asking them to do their job serving and protecting our communities, which sometimes means life or death situations, without pay,” Shrader said in the release. “Meanwhile Congress can’t do its number one job. What kind of message is that? Those keeping us safe, especially, don’t deserve to suffer because of our failures. Congress must step it up and fully fund the government.”

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici added to that, underlining that the Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act would “provide relief” to members and “allow them to stay focused on their mission.”

If passed, the Act would provide funding during any “period during which an interim or full-year appropriations for the Coast Guard are not in effect,” the release said.

This means active duty and reserve members of the Coast Guard are paid, as are civilian employees and contractors for the Coast Guard. It also means there would be payment of death gratuities with respect to members of the Coast Guard, funeral travel, temporary continuation of basic housing allowance for dependents, and continue retired pay and benefits.

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Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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