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Former Coast Guard chief compares Congress to children



The former top enlisted Coast Guardsman and his deputy delivered a sharp rebuke of Congress amid the ongoing partial government shutdown, which has delayed paychecks for thousands of Coast Guardsmen.

In an opinion column on, former Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell and his deputy, Master Chief Leilani Cale-Jones, compared the congressional impasse to disappointed parents scolding their children.

“The most demoralizing thing a child can hear from their parents is ‘I am so ashamed of you’ when they do something stupid,” Cantrell and Cale-Jones wrote.

“To our congressional and administration leadership, we say: We are so ashamed of you.”

While the two chiefs praised local communities for the public’s continued support of the unpaid men and women of the Coast Guard, they highlighted what they described as an “absurdity in 2019.”

“We all have a bitter taste regarding the use of our pay as a political football to kick around by people who have an obligation to pay just debts and provide for the general welfare of the United States while they themselves are getting paid,” their column continued.

“The Coast Guard workforce has every right to be bitter, but please don’t let that bitterness take away from all the good that is being done all around the country by those who support and serve in the nation’s oldest continuous seagoing service and keeping our service Semper Paratus.”

“Semper Paratus,” the Coast Guard’s motto, is Latin for “always ready.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jon-Paul Rios/US Coast Guard

President Donald Trump, who is demanding $5.7 billion in funding for a barrier on the US-Mexico border, faces opposition from a Democratic-majority House, who have refused to pass any funding bill that includes spending on the barrier.

As a consequence, around 800,000 federal employees and contractors are affected by the longest government shutdown in US history. The Coast Guard, which operates under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security, was reportedly not able to pay around 42,000 active-duty service members last week.

The delay marked the first time in recent history that a branch of the US military was not able to pay its service members.

Numerous food pantries for Coast Guardsmen and other federal agencies have reportedly opened since the shutdown. Unable to secure funding, the Coast Guard’s newest recruits are also reportedly in limbo after their graduation.

“These patriots do not carry out the missions of the US Coast Guard protecting and defending our great country to get rich, but they have the right to expect to be paid as entitled and when due as anyone else would,” Cantrell and Cale-Jones wrote.

Current Coast Guard officials made similar comments in recent days, including Coast Guard commandant Adm. Karl Schultz. On Tuesday, Schultz called the ongoing partial government shutdown “unacceptable” and said he would “continue to seek solutions” on Capitol Hill.

“We’re five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay,” Adm. Karl Schultz said in a video message to service members. “You, as members of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden.”

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