As the shutdown continues, the callous responses to the financial situation federal employees face rise to new heights. This time, from the Coast Guard.
More than half a million federal employees have spent the better part of a month either furloughed or working without pay. During that time, a Congressman told them that the resulting financial emergencies these families face are their own fault for not saving more, and a government agency recommended federal workers offer to do odd jobs to pay their bills.
In a five-page tip sheet published by the Coast Guard, federal employees got their latest tip: babysit, be a “mystery shopper” or sell their belongings.
Adding insult to insult to injury, the document reminded workers: “Bankruptcy is a last option.”
The tip sheet was published to advise the Coast Guard’s 8,500 civilian employees — 2,100 of whom have spent 19 days working without pay while the other 6,400 are on indefinite furlough. Additionally, 41,000 active-duty Guardsmen will likely not receive their January 15th paycheck.
The tip sheet was removed from the Coast Guard’s website after The Washington Post inquired about it.
A Coast Guard spokesperson told the Post that the tip sheet does not “reflect the Coast Guard’s current efforts to support our workforce during this lapse in appropriations.”
While the Coast Guard is a military service, it is not funded alongside the other branches of the military, which has been a point of contention for the maritime service particularly during the current shutdown. Congress has introduced an act to fund the Coast Guard through the shutdown, but if it doesn’t get passed and signed Thursday, Guardsmen will not receive their next paychecks.
“I never believed it would be necessary to remind the leaders of all branches of government of their constitutional responsibilities, but it appears they have subordinated the ‘general welfare’ of their fellow citizens to parochial interests,” wrote former Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad W. Allen. “While this political theater ensues, there are junior Coast Guard petty officers, with families, who are already compensated at levels below the national poverty level, who will not be paid during this government shutdown.”
The shutdown, which is the result of the president’s refusal to sign a budget without funding for a border wall that Congress, including every Representative along the border, refuses to fund. It shows no sign of ending.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.