Coast Guard: Government shutdown could hinder "mission readiness"

/ CBS News

Coast Guard wives: "Extremely tight" budgets

The government shutdown could impact the Coast Guard's "mission readiness," since it's the only military branch that doesn't get paid, a Coast Guard spokesman told CBS News Thursday. The Coast Guard will continue necessary operations, but the spokesman said it will be difficult to project the impact "months or years from now."

"We don't know how long the government shutdown will last, but the Coast Guard is statutorily obligated to maintain the essential safety, security, and environmental protection services the public expects during the government shutdown," said Lt. Commander Scott McBride in a statement. "However, absent an approved budget, the longer the shutdown lasts, the more difficult it will become for the Coast Guard to maintain mission readiness."

The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, and not the Department of Defense, causing the discrepancy in pay. CBS News' Janet Shamlian spoke to three Coast Guard wives in Bacliff, Texas, who all said they've been forced to dip into their savings.

"Our budget is extremely tight. We have just bought only the necessities when we went grocery shopping and you know trying to look at the sales and see what's on sale," Vienna Julien said.

Ashley Totten said the Coast Guard is "absolutely being overlooked" during the shutdown.

"We just want there to be a resolution that puts the Coast Guard in a situation to actually be respected and treated the way that they should be as far as funding goes," Totten said.

A five-page financial guide for Coast Guard families listed ways to supplement their income. It suggested holding a garage sale, baby-sitting and becoming a "mystery shopper." The advice was later removed from the website, and a spokesman said it "does not reflect the Coast Guard's current efforts to support its workforce during the lapse."

The "Pay Our Coast Guard Act" was introduced last week by Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. The bill would get members paid during the shutdown, but so far it hasn't passed the Senate.

First published on January 10, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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