GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In a last minute vote, Congress voted to avoid a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security Friday night.
The Senate voted earlier Friday night to fund DHS for one more week, a move followed later by the House.
“Our efforts and mission success depend on reliable and predictable funding and not having that jeopardize our aircraft, our cutter and our boat maintenance which also impacts operation,” said Lieutenant Davey Connor, Public Affairs Officer with the Coast Guard.
If no agreement would have been met, hundreds of thousands of DHS workers would have either been furloughed or forced to work without pay, including TSA screeners, border agents, secret service agents, FEMA workers and active duty Coast Guard.
“This kind of uncertainty in budgeting really makes it difficult to plan long-term which is important for an organization with our responsibility and our size,” Connor said.
If no agreement is met within the next week and the Department of Homeland Security does not get the funding it needs about 40-thousand active duty Coast Guard workers will be forced to work without getting paid.
“They’re doing dangerous work for our nation and many of them are going to be challenged to make ends meet,” Connor said.
The Coast Guard said a shutdown would have a significant impact on its workforce and its long term capabilities.
“The coast guard overall has a billion dollars in acquisition and maintenance contracts that’s getting new equipment and technology and also keeping what we have running and those will continue to be deferred or disrupted as long as there is this lapse in apparitions which is going to reduce the long-term operation availability and effectiveness of the Coast Guard overall,” said Connor.
Specifically here in the Great Lakes area, during the winter the Coast Guard escorts ships carrying all types of materials like food and energy materials from port to port breaking up the ice as they go along that will change its ice breaking ventures will be restricted to just three areas.
“The movement of critical energy material so things like heating oil or coal the stuff that people really need to stay alive in this though winter, search and rescue and then prevention of flooding,” said Connor.