U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-2nd, introduced legislation Tuesday to fund the Coast Guard during what he called the “Washington-created government shutdown.”

The “Pay Our Coast Guard Act of 2019” first will go to the House Appropriations Committee.

He said he also will introduce legislation, most likely Wednesday, to fund the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, and the FAA part of Department of Defense. The funding for both is caught up in a battle between Republicans and Democrats over budgeting for construction of a wall or barrier along the southern border with Mexico.

The partial federal government shutdown is entering its third week, with many Coast Guard and FAA workers in South Jersey going without a paycheck.

“I’m trying to really make a statement, that the Coast Guard is not being funded at this point because it is part of Homeland Security, not part of the Department of Defense,” said Van Drew. “It’s in a particularly unfortunate position.”

He said he is working on getting co-sponsors. Once it passes out of committee, he said he will lobby House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to take the bill up in the full House and Senate.

Both the Coast Guard and FAA are important to the economy of South Jersey. The Coast Guard has its only national training center in Cape May, and the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center operates at Atlantic City International Airport.

“While I would prefer that we end this unnecessary shutdown across all departments and get our country up and running again, we cannot afford to play politics with the safety of our citizens and national security,” said Van Drew. “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.”

He said he has heard from many federal workers, Coast Guard personnel and contractors who are worried about paying their bills.

The “Pay Our Coast Guard Act of 2019” would instruct the Department of Treasury to use any money not otherwise appropriated to pay salaries of Coast Guard members and Coast Guard Reserve members, civilian employees and contractors. It also would be used to pay the death gratuity and other funeral expenses, and for the basic allowance of housing for dependents of members of the Coast Guard who die on active duty.

The bill calls for the payments to be made until a law is enacted for regular funding.

While community groups are mobilizing to help affected Coast Guard and FAA workers in South Jersey, they need their paychecks, Van Drew said.

The Seaville Fire & Rescue Company and Wildwood American Legion Post 184 are accepting donations of nonperishable food, diapers, baby food and money to help people affected by the shutdown.

On his first day in office Jan. 3, Van Drew voted for a package of funding bills to end the shutdown, which passed the House of Representatives but has not been taken up by the Republican-led U.S. Senate. President Donald Trump has said he would veto it if it passes both houses.

Contact: 609-272-7219 mpost@pressofac.com Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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