On Dec. 8, the United States Coast Guard responded to an emergency beacon from a commercial fishing vessel that caught fire. Two 45-foot response boats and an 87-foot patrol boat responded to the scene, which was approximately 16 miles off Cape May. They found the four crew members clinging to a life raft in survival suits. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. Distress calls like this can happen at any time and the outcome is largely the result of the quick response time of the U. S. Coast Guard. These brave men and women should be compensated like any other member of the military.

The Coast Guard is the only one of the five military branches where pay has been suspended during the current government shutdown. The Coast Guard is connected to the Homeland Security Department, not the Department of Defense, like the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. And that is why their pay is suspended.

The Greater Atlantic City Chamber supports the Pay Our Coast Guard Act of 2019 legislation (S.3013) led by Rep. Jeff Van Drew. The bill would provide FY2019 continuing appropriations to the Coast Guard for any period during which interim or full-year appropriations for the Coast Guard are not in effect.

The nearly 42,000 men and women of the Coast Guard perform daily missions to serve the country and its people. Those missions include, but are not limited to, search and rescue, marine safety, defense readiness, marine environmental protection, ice operations and law enforcement. These missions, and many others, still exist during the government stoppage. The essential support they provide and the risk they encounter do not stop. And neither do the bills their families incur.

Van Drew worked in his first week to propose two different pieces of legislation that would have a great effect on the people of South Jersey; one to fund the Coast Guard and one to fund the Federal Aviation Administration. Both have substantial facilities in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. Van Drew has said, “We cannot afford to play politics with the safety of our citizens and national security. Funding the Coast Guard is the responsible thing to do as it would give our leaders more time to negotiate and make our military whole again.”

We applaud Van Drew for introducing legislation that puts funding for the United States Coast Guard on the same level of the other four branches of the military.