After a last-minute intervention by Sen. Susan Collins, employees of the Coast Guard, including hundreds in Maine, will receive their pre-shutdown pay Monday on schedule.

Previously, the employees had been told they would not be getting their second paycheck of the month because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.

A spokesman for Collins said she contacted the White House on Friday afternoon to urge an immediate fix to the payment issue, and a few hours later was told that Coast Guard members would now receive pay for their pre-shutdown work.

“Good news for the Coast Guard!” Collins, a Republican, tweeted at 8:26 p.m. Friday. “White House staff called to tell me CG members will receive their paychecks as did other federal employees. I continue to work to end the shutdown, but this will provide immediate relief to CG members & their families.”

Hundreds of Coast Guard employees in Maine have remained on the job during the shutdown. Active-duty members nationwide are required to keep working, while most civilian employees of the Coast Guard have been furloughed, officials said.

The Coast Guard is scaling back its operations during the shutdown to focus on search and rescue, along with law enforcement functions related to port and homeland security, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi, a spokesman for the Coast Guard’s district operations based in Boston. Other functions that the service normally performs, such as maintaining navigation aids, will be deferred until after the shutdown ends, he said.

“If there’s a problem, let’s hope the Coast Guard’s there to answer it,” said Willis Spear, a Yarmouth fisherman.

Maine’s active fishing and shipping industries, and the dangers they face along the state’s 3,500-mile-long coastline, are a big reason the state is home to five Coast Guard stations and several hundred employees.

The fishing industry is also being indirectly affected by the effective shutdown of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Spear said. That agency has issued new rules on allowable catches for several species of fish, he said, and without workers at the service, fishermen can’t find out if they are eligible to catch those fish.

The shutdown began last week, when President Trump demanded $5 billion to pay for additional construction of a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border. Democrats in Congress have balked at more funding for the wall. That has led to a shutdown of about two-fifths of the government, affecting nine departments whose 2018-19 budgets have not yet been approved.

Nationwide, hundreds of nonessential civilian workers for nine federal departments affected by the shutdown have been furloughed and told to stay home until the impasse between Trump and congressional Democrats ends.

Essential workers and active-duty Coast Guard personnel are among those who have to be on the job and hope that the final deal includes language to pay them for the time they have put in. In past shutdowns, workers have been paid for lost wages after the impasse has been resolved.

The Coast Guard is focusing its resources on search and rescue along with port and homeland security during the partial government shutdown.

The Coast Guard is a branch of the armed services, but is part of the Department of Homeland Security, one of the departments closed by the budget impasse. The rest of the military operates as part of the Department of Defense, which is not included in the shutdown. Personnel in those branches of the military continue to collect pay.

Coast Guard sector Northern New England, which covers Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, has a total of seven stations and about 570 civilian, active-duty and reserve members, Barresi said. Most of those workers are in Maine, where the sector is headquartered, although the Coast Guard has small bases in New Hampshire and Vermont included in that total. Barresi said he could not provide a detailed breakdown of affected employees.

Barresi said civilian nonessential employees of the Coast Guard have been furloughed as a result of the shutdown. Nationally, he said, about 85 percent of the civilian employees of the Coast Guard are considered nonessential, he said.

The Coast Guard’s human resources office has a webpage to answer questions about the shutdown, including details about when pay might resume after the shutdown ends. It also includes a letter for active-duty personnel to download that asks creditors to provide “understanding and flexibility” with bills during the shutdown.

Earlier Friday, Collins said the shutdown “represents a failure to govern and threatens to harm hundreds of thousands of federal employees and their families, those who need to interact with the closed agencies, and our economy.”

Collins said she sponsored a bill that will make sure that federal employees who work during the shutdown are paid, and the measure passed the Senate unanimously. She also said she’s discussing possible solutions to the shutdown with the White House and with other senators.

Before Friday night’s announcement, Maine’s senior senator had issued a statement addressing the separate payroll system that would prevent active-duty members of the Coast Guard from receiving pay for pre-shutdown work unless action was taken.

“Most federal employees will receive their scheduled paychecks today, but that is not the case for 42,000 Coast Guard members, who will not be paid for pre-shutdown work because they are under a different pay system,” Collins tweeted at 5:25 p.m. “This is not fair. I called the White House to urge an immediate fix.”

Also before Friday night’s announcement, Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine’s 1st District, issued a statement about the shutdown and its effect on federal employees, including those who work for the Coast Guard.

“It’s unconscionable that President Trump can be so glib about the shutdown and have so little compassion for federal workers, like members of Maine’s Coast Guard, who must go to work without a paycheck while they have families to feed and mortgages to pay,” she said, adding that “they deserve recognition from the President not to work without pay due to his needless shutdown.”

Other federal workers in Maine are also affected by the shutdown, including employees of the Transportation Security Administration, who provide security screenings at airports. An email seeking information from a TSA spokeswoman was returned unanswered, along with a note saying that she was considered a “non-security-sensitive” employee and had been furloughed.

The TSA is also part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The National Weather Service is also scaling back operations. It’s part of the Commerce Department, another of the nine agencies without funding that have been affected by the shutdown.

The weather service said it will continue to provide forecasts and storm watches and warnings, but all other public activities have been canceled or postponed and any social media posts will be restricted to those relating to ongoing weather.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]


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