Shutdown Hits Coast Guard Academy, NOAA and MARAD

Cadets drill at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut (Visit CT)

By The Maritime Executive 01-02-2019 07:30:00

An estimated ten percent of the U.S. Coast Guard's employees have been furloughed due to the partial government shutdown, and most of those who remain working face uncertainty about their next paycheck. About 160 of the 260 staff at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy are among those who are off work until the shutdown ends, and students are set to return for the next semester on Sunday.  
Most of the 100 personnel still on duty at the Academy are faculty members, and classes will be held as scheduled, according to the school. However, groundskeepers, maintenance workers and some athletic coaches will not be on hand. Winter sports will continue, but other athletic events could be canceled. 

"The lapse in funding will impact the ability for cadets to receive academic support services, participate in outreach activities and some athletic events," the Academy said in an advisory. 

The shutdown also affects more than half the staff at the Maritime Administration, which prepared to cease all activities in the Committee on Marine Transportation Systems, the Office of Policy and Plans, and the Office of Maritime Education and Training, among others. MARAD continues all its essential operations for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the Maritime Security Program, the NRDF and Ready Reserve, and the Ship Disposal Program.

At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the shutdown has hit important licensing and research functions. Most NOAA research activities are suspended, and Alaska Public Radio reports that many of the NOAA officials who conduct required permitting for the Alaskan trawl fisheries are furloughed and unavailable. (Even if willing, NOAA employees who are furloughed may not voluntarily perform their ordinary duties without pay, according to the agency's HR office.) At least one large catcher-processor is tied to the pier in Dutch Harbor until the shutdown ends or another permitting solution is found. 

The Democratic Party takes control of the House of Representatives on Thursday, and among its first acts, it is set to pass spending bills to restore all federal funding at current levels. However, these measures will not likely pass the Republican-controlled Senate, which has signaled in advance that it will not vote in favor of legislation that the president will not sign. President Donald Trump has promised a lengthy shutdown until Congress appropriates $5 billion for the construction of a wall at the southern border; as the Democratic leadership's plan only includes $1.3 billion for general border security, the White House has described it as a "non-starter."