The ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government is already the third longest since 1980, and the longer it stretches on, the longer many South Jersey workers — including Coast Guard personnel — will go without pay.

Seventy-five percent of the federal government is fully funded through September. Not included in that figure is the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Coast Guard.

As of Friday, out of 98 civilian employees at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, all are furloughed except 24 who were deemed essential, said John Edwards, spokesman for the Training Center. The 24 will work and be paid for their hours once a budget is passed, the same as all enlisted personnel.

“They need to pass a continuing resolution or budget,” Edwards said. “I have no idea how long that will take.”

The federal funding lapse was not resolved Friday, meaning salaried Coast Guard personnel will see the delay in their expected pay extend into the new year, Edwards said.

“While we hope for a quick resolution to the shutdown,” Edwards said, “we are continuing our mission to train our recruits with the highest standards and care expected of that responsibility.”

The American Legion in Wildwood and the Seaville Volunteer Fire Company in Upper Township are collaborating to collect donations for Coast Guard enlistees and their families, said Vince DePrinzio, the local post’s adjutant. They are seeking nonperishable food, diapers and gift cards.

Workers at the Federal Aviation Administration’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township are also feeling the pinch. Of 1,420 employees at the research, development and testing facility, 971 are furloughed and 449 are working without pay, said Greg Martin, a spokesman for the FAA.

It’s not just workers noticing the funding lapse.

Ted and Lynn Bodine made a stop in Atlantic City on their drive back to upstate New York after spending the holidays with their kids in Richmond, Virginia.

They had time to kill Friday, they said, and decided to visit the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Galloway Township.

The Bodines arrived, in the rain, to a nearly deserted refuge.

“We’re just glad it’s open,” Ted Bodine said. “Since it’s our first time here, we don’t know if this is normal.”

A sign on the door of the Visitor Information Center read, “Sorry visitors info center is closed during gov’t shut down,” punctuated by a frowning face. The Bodines joked that, since there were almost no employees in sight, they could have gotten away with not paying the $4 entrance fee for their car.

“We’d rather fund the National Parks maybe than anything else,” Lynn Bodine said.

President Donald Trump requested $5 billion in 2019’s budget to begin construction of a border wall he promised throughout his 2016 presidential campaign. Congressional Democrats rejected that. The shutdown began last Saturday with funding for nine Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies lapsing, furloughing 380,000 employees and leaving 420,000 essential employees to work unpaid.

With Trump vowing to do “whatever it takes” to get funding for the proposed wall, the shutdown could last for some time.

Jeff Van Drew will be sworn in as the U.S. representative from the 2nd District on Jan. 3rd, replacing Frank LoBiondo, who is retiring after 24 years in Congress.

Van Drew said the sticky immigration disputes at the core of the shutdown should never have gotten to the point of total gridlock.

“There are gonna be pay delays, without question. It’s unfortunate. For some people, they can weather that more easily than others,” Van Drew said. “It’s not the way we should conduct business in the United States of America.”

LoBiondo struck a similar chord last week.

“I strongly urge the president and Democratic leaders to compromise on a solution that ends the partial government shutdown that affects members of the Coast Guard, employees and contractors at the FAA Technical Center, other impacted federal workers and their respective families,” LoBiondo said.

Staff Writer Avalon Zoppo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact: 609-272-7260 Twitter @ACPressColtShaw

Staff Writer

I cover breaking news on the digital desk. I graduated from Temple University in Dec. 2017 and joined the Press in the fall of 2018. Previously, I freelanced, covering Pennsylvania state politics and criminal justice reform.

Load comments