NORFOLK, Va. — They saved 4,188 lives in 2017--the most recent year for which data is available--yet, Coast Guard members will soon be forced to do their jobs for free.
January 15th is when their next paycheck is due.
And, unless there's some miraculous breakthrough in the government shutdown impasse, 42,000 Coast Guard personnel will get paid nothing.
"Donald Trump, who says this is about security, well, if it's about security, we ought to make sure our Coast Guard is paid," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia).
"So, Coast Guard personnel, if they're essential, they're working with no paycheck," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia). "If they're not essential, they're furloughed. How does that help deal with the problem the president claims he wants to solve?"
The dispute stems from President Trump's insistence over $5 billion for a wall along the U.S. Mexico border and Congressional Democrats' refusal to give it to him.
In a 9-minute speech last night, Trump portrayed undocumented immigrants as murderers, rapists and drug smugglers.
Today, the president cut short shutdown negotiations with congressional Democrats, calling the talks, "'a total waste of time."
Meanwhile, Warner and Kaine have joined a bipartisan group of 28 other colleagues in sponsoring "The Government Employee Fair Treatment Act."
The legislation guarantees back pay as soon as possible for the 420,000 federal workers that are being forced to work without pay and the 380,000 federal workers who were furloughed.
Other Hampton Roads lawmakers are weighing in on the shutdown.
First District Rep. Rob Wittman, a Republican, sided with Trump and going forward with wall funding.
"This must be done now. Our nation's security is at risk," said Wittman.
"It's long past time for this... shutdown to end," said Second District Democrat Elaine Luria. "Our Coast Guard, TSA, and other federal workers shouldn't be hostages in political fights."
"Fear-mongering won't change the facts. We must reopen the government and then debate real border security," said Third District Democrat Bobby Scott.
"Yes, there is a crisis. A crisis for hardworking federal employees. Their bills are piling, rent and mortgage are due, and they have no idea when they will see a paycheck," said Fourth District Democrat Donald McEachin.