Military families beg Congress to stop Trump's shutdown


Members of the Coast Guard are facing an entire month without pay.

Military families are in crisis thanks to Trump's shutdown — and now they're lobbying Congress directly to demand that lawmakers do something to stop it.

While other branches of the military are still getting paid during the shutdown, that's not true for the Coast Guard — whose 42,000 service members are being forced to work without a paycheck. Coast Guard members already missed their January 15 pay, and are now on track to receive nothing on their January 30 payday too.

A group of 30 Coast Guard service members and their spouses went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to make members aware of their dire situation, and to ask for legislation that would get them paid even if the shutdown continues.

"People are buckling down, going to food pantries, worrying whether they can pay for their kids sports, calling companies to get bills deferred and payments deferred," Michelle Alonso, a Coast Guard spouse, told Military Times. The worst part, she added, is "the stress not knowing how long you can go without a paycheck."

Trump has forced the longest federal government shutdown on record, over than a month and counting, because Congress won't agree to his $5.7 billion ransom demand to fund an unpopular, unnecessary, and racist border wall.

Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have the power to stop the shutdown. They could pass bills to reopen the government that have already made it through the House, and they could override Trump if he vetoed those bills.

But McConnell has refused to even hold a vote on these bills, denying pay to over 800,000 federal workers — including members of the military who perform vital national security functions. On Tuesday, McConnell blocked an attempt by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) to fund the Department of Homeland Security, the source of Coast Guard funding.

While Trump likes to claim that a wall would stop the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, the vast majority of illegal drugs actually come in by sea. That means the best way to stop those drugs is to fund the Coast Guard, not build a wall.

Instead, Trump is making sure that for the first time in American history, members of the military aren't getting paid because of a government shutdown.

And Coast Guard members, their families, and communities are all hurting.

"Now they can’t pay their rent," Jon Ostrowski, national president of the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association, told Military Times. "Many may have made arrangements with landlords or banks to help them for the first month. Missing another paycheck will hit them hard."

The Trump administration has not held a press briefing since the shutdown began, which has allowed the White House to avoid questions about the damage it's inflicting on these military families.

Trump has spent the last two years routinely attacking and denigrating our armed forces and our veterans. Now he's threatening their livelihoods — and his Republican Party is standing with him all the way.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.