Murkowski, Sullivan make pleas to pay Coast Guard during partial government shutdown
"This isn't a natural disaster, this is a man-made disaster," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, as she spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate Saturday in support of the Coast Guard, especially in Alaska.
"When they say that we're a Coast Guard town, Kodiak is truly, truly a Coast Guard town," Murkowski said during her 25-minute speech.
She says nearly 1,100 Coast Guard personnel are assigned to Kodiak. They account for about one-third of the area's economy.
"Right now, Persian Gulf, Marines, Coast Guard, Navy, guess who's not getting paid?" asked Sen. Dan Sullivan.
The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military not paid during the shutdown because it is part of the Department of Homeland Security, not the Defense Department. Sullivan spoke from the Senate floor Friday night. He co-sponsored a bill that would pay Coast Guard personnel during the partial government shutdown.
"On average, every month in the state of Alaska, the Coast Guard saves 22 lives. One month on average, one state, assists 53 people, reports and investigates 25 maritime casualties, conducts close to 20 security boardings and over 20 security patrols," Sullivan said.
His bill has bi-partisan support and he said President Trump agreed to approve it if it gets that far.
Meanwhile, it's not just Coast Guard personnel and their families who are hurting, it's the entire community of Kodiak.
"You go on Facebook, and there will be postings of empty restaurants, empty establishments, saying 'Please come, we're looking for customers,'" Murkowski said.
Places like the Kodiak Island Brewery Company, which posted a photo of an empty tasting room this week and offered a "shut down sale."
Murkowski said it serves as a reminder that it's not just federal employees who are affected during the partial government shutdown, but entire communities.
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