Vice President Mike Pence spoke Wednesday about border security and other military operations to more than 80 government employees in Portsmouth, including Coast Guard crews and members of the Department of Homeland Security, who did not get paid during the partial government shutdown.
“Let me say to each and every one of you the president and I couldn’t be more grateful or couldn’t be more proud of all of our federal employees and their families who rose to the challenge, stayed on task, but we are especially grateful to the men and women of the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security,” Pence said. “You stood tall, you stood your watch, you did not relent and you have our thanks for your commitment to your mission and your duty.”
Pence came to Portsmouth to be briefed about border security threats and other criminal organization activity. He toured the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter BEAR before he spoke with both members from the DHS’ Joint Task Force and Coast Guard crew.
The Coast Guard was one of many agencies affected by the partial government shutdown, which lasted about a month and resulted in many federal employees going to work without pay.
Pence also reiterated several key points from President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in Washington including securing government funding for security along the United States’ southern border, the humanitarian crisis of undocumented immigrants and the nationwide opioid crisis.
“In the days ahead you can be confident that just as each and every one of you stepped forward to protect this nation every day and stand up for the American people we will continue to stand with you and give you the resources and support that you need.”
Thanks to Congress, the previously furloughed employees are now eligible for back pay.
“Everyone throughout the Coast Guard got paid last week,” said Michael Roschel, commanding officer at the Coast Guard base in Portsmouth. “I know that for certain.”
When asked how the Coast Guard was preparing for the possibility of another shutdown, Roschel said they plan to continue to operate the base as usual.
“The Coast Guard is a resilient group and our focus right now is conducting operations– protecting the American public and protecting our waterways,” he said. “Our focus is really on continuity of operations.”
While the Coast Guard received back pay last week, it is not clear if other agencies affected by the shutdown received back pay also.
Congress has less than two weeks to negotiate government funding before the Feb. 15 deadline.