Military pay raises may be frozen at 2015 levels if no agreement is reached in Congress to avoid a government shutdown. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), the first Navy SEAL elected to the House and the father of a member of our military called on President Obama to put politics aside and give our troops the resources they need to win and come home safe. “No price can be attached to the sacrifices the men and women in uniform are willing to make,” Zinke says.
The standoff heated up on Thursday when Senate Democrats blocked a 2016 defense spending bill, according to Reuters.
The White House and Democrats oppose the bill because it increases military spending beyond the restrictions were put in place under the 2011 Budget Control Act. Democrats instead prioritize non-defense domestic spending.
Democrats have vowed to stop the 12 government spending bills in the Senate unless Republicans are willing to discuss lifting all spending caps, not only the military ones.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes Democrats’ proposition. If the 12 spending bills are not passed by October 1, a continuing resolution to avert a shutdown would instead need to be passed to keep the government running. If this continuing resolution is still in effect on January 1, troops won’t get the higher salaries promised in the defense bill, according to The Hill.
House Speaker John Boehner asserted that Democrats want to halt military pay raises: “We live in a dangerous world, and whatever our troops need, they should get. And they ought to get a raise too. Our troops come first. Save the politics for another day.”
Democrat Senator Bob Casey issued a statement that read, “Funding the base operations of the Department of Defense through an accounting gimmick is no way to support the service members and their families who sacrifice so much for our nation’s defense.”
Both Republicans and Democrats are holding ground as the impasse looms. Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat, has stated that the appropriations process is headed toward “another fiscal cliff that leads to another omnibus or continuing resolution.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Mac Thornberry, Republican from Texas, responded, “Senate Democrats [should] do the right thing and carefully consider the Defense funding bill. Holding defense hostage to extract more funding for other agencies like the IRS and EPA is the height of irresponsibility,” he said.
Joe Donnelly of Indiana is the only Democrat in the Senate that favors taking up the defense spending bill. While he sided with Republicans in lifting defense spending caps, he also said that he also desired to lift non-defense spending limits as well.
“It is my hope that in the coming months, members on both sides of the aisle can come together and begin the hard work of negotiating a bipartisan budget that reflects all of our country’s needs,” Donnelly said.