As Trump Shutdown Reaches 26th Day, Cantwell Shares Story of Coast Guard Family to Call Attention to Impacts on Coasties
According to Coast Guard, yesterday marked first time a branch of U.S. military has not been paid during a government shutdown
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) took to the Senate floor to call attention to the devastating impact the on-going Trump government shutdown is having on Coast Guard members and their families.
“This is the 26th day of a federal government shutdown, and yesterday 55,000 Coast Guard personnel did not receive their mid-month paycheck,” said Cantwell in her remarks. “We need to act to give these Coast Guard families their pay and to make sure that we are addressing the shutdown and reopening government.”
Cantwell told the story of Second-Class Petty Officer Amy-Erin Hamilton and her family, who are stationed in Seattle. As a dual-military family, neither Amy-Erin nor her husband, Dan, received a pay check on January 15th.
“In December, [Second-Class Petty Officer Hamilton] was given a meritorious advancement, which is a rare and incredible honor. Despite this, though, she is working without pay and has had to seek outside income to support [her family],” said Cantwell.
Amy-Erin Hamilton and her husband Dan Hamilton both serve in the U.S. Coast Guard in Seattle, WA. They have three young children. Amy-Erin was recently selected to receive a meritorious promotion, a phenomenal honor only awarded to active duty and reserve enlisted members who display an extraordinary adherence to the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. As a dual-military family, neither Hamilton nor her husband received a paycheck this month. The Hamiltons, like many Coast Guard families around the globe, have resorted to supplementing their income with outside employment during the shutdown to ensure they can provide for their family and young children.
- More than 55,000 Coast Guard members did not receive their mid-month paycheck, including 2,543 stationed in Washington.
- Roughly 2,000 Coast Guard members are currently deployed overseas, including 375 serving in combat zones. These members, too, are not receiving pay.
- More than 6,400 civilian employees of the Coast Guard have been furloughed including 130 in Washington.
- 31% of Coast Guard families do not have enough emergency savings to make it through the shutdown.
- More than 1,000 Coast Guard families are not able to receive their childcare subsidy during the shutdown.
Click HERE to watch Senator Cantwell’s remarks. A full transcript is below.
CANTWELL: Mr. President, I come to the floor joining my colleagues who were speaking earlier today about the many U.S. citizens who are federal employees who are impacted by the shutdown. Here Coast Guard Second-Class Petty Officer Amy-Erin Hamilton, stationed in Seattle, Washington, is one of those individuals.
The mother of three children – Sienna, age 10; Tucker age 9; and Annabelle, age five – Amy-Erin is also married to Dan Hamilton, also an active duty member, and she is a shining example of the service and leadership we see in our Coast Guard today.
In December, she was given a meritorious advancement, which is a rare and incredible honor. Despite this, though, she is working without pay and has had to seek outside income to support that family I just mentioned.
This is the 26th day of a federal government shutdown, and yesterday 55,000 Coast Guard personnel did not receive their mid-month paycheck. That had the Coast Guard commandant issuing a letter to the workforce explaining what was happening, explaining that this is the first time that a branch of our military has not been paid during a government shutdown. We have 41,000 active duty members, 6,200 reservist members, and 8,500 civilians and 50,000 Coast Guard retirees. That is the U.S. Coast Guard family.
And 31% of the Coast Guard families do not have enough emergency savings to make it through the shutdown. A junior enlisted Coast Guard member with less than two years of service makes only $23,200 a year in base pay. That is at a level that is below the poverty level.
So Coast Guard members who are currently being deployed overseas – that is, they could be in a combat zone – and these members are not receiving pay. So I hope that our colleagues will take into consideration this issue with our Coast Guard families. They are working hard to provide great care for us throughout our country and overseas.
And when I think about the fact that a Coast Guard member could be deployed overseas in an area that had seen combat, an area that is an unstable region of the world, and they're not even receiving the child care subsidy and support to make sure that their families are taken care of while they're gone taking care of us, is just wrong. So I come here to join my colleagues who were here earlier today on the floor giving examples of Americans throughout the United States who are working hard for us. It is time we work to get them their paycheck and continue to support them so they can support us.
I know my colleague from Connecticut is here and would like to speak as well. And I thank him for allowing me to fit in this time to talk on behalf of the Coast Guard families. I hope that the commandant's letter can now be seen as an example of why we need to act.
We need to act to give these Coast Guard families their pay and to make sure that we are addressing the shutdown and reopening government.
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