Sunday, December 30, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He patted himself on the back for temporarily paying the Coast Guard.

The United States Coast Guard is operated through the Department of Homeland Security, which is affected by Trump's refusal to sign a budget appropriations bill that does not contain $5 billion for a border "wall." That meant that its 42,000 personnel were among the 800,000 going unpaid during the shutdown.

Today, Trump congratulated himself on Twitter for the "great work" his administration had done to "save Coast Guard pay." He also said it was "no thanks to the Democrats who left town."

There are a few problems here. Coast Guard personnel will receive their December 31st paychecks as scheduled, through a legal reinterpretation of the department's authority to issue paychecks during the 2018 calendar year. This trick will not work twice, though: the next paycheck due on January 15th will not be paid if the shutdown continues.

The pay also comes at a cost: the Coast Guard will begin to restrict its operations to search and rescue. Other missions, ranging from drug interdiction to maritime law enforcement, will be suspended in the absence of funding. Ironically, another primary mission of the Coast Guard is border patrol, which will also lapse as a result of the restrictions forced by the shutdown.

"Democrats" in Congress have indeed left town, along with Republicans: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) adjourned their respective houses before Christmas. Trump himself has not been involved in the negotiations with Congress, and believes he can use it to distract from the Democrats' takeover in the House when the new session convenes on January 3rd. 

Why does this matter?

  • Successfully meeting one payroll deadline for some employees is nothing to brag about.