U.S. Homeland Security Chief Seeks Pay for Coast Guard as Service Members Miss First Paycheck

U.S. Coast Guard
A crew aboard the 52-foot Motor Life Boat Invincible II from Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor prepares to tow a disabled vessel Grays Harbor, Wash., Jan. 7, 2019. U.S. Coat Guard Photo

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WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (Reuters) – U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Tuesday she was working with the White House and Congress to pass legislation to fund the Coast Guard so that its workers could get paid even amid the partial government shutdown.

“Like the other branches of the U.S. military, active duty @USCG should be paid for their service and sacrifice to this nation,” Nielsen wrote on Twitter.

According to the Military Times, about 43,000 Coast Guard employees are working without pay, and another 10,000 are furloughed, as the shutdown grinds into its fourth week. The guard said on Monday it would not be able to make its Tuesday payday and last week announced it was increasing the amount of interest-free loans available to some members.

A standoff over funding for President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall, which he says will curb the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States from its southern neighbors, has led to the longest shutdown in U.S. history. On Tuesday the shutdown dragged into its 25th day with neither Trump nor Democratic congressional leaders, who have called the wall immoral and ineffective, showing signs of bending on funds.

As part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard is charged with blocking illegal immigration and the smuggling of illicit goods into the United States by sea.

Since Oct. 1, it has stopped approximately 383 migrants attempting to enter Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands illegally, according to its website. (Reporting by Tim Ahmann and Lisa Lambert; Editing by David Alexander and Tom Brown)

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