Lawmakers offer bill to protect military pay in case of government shutdown

President Obama signs HR 3210, the Pay Our Military Act, on Sept. 30, 2013. The bill provides continuing appropriations for pay and allowances for service members during a government shutdown. (Pete Souza / White House)

With the deadline for passing the government funding bill looming, some lawmakers are trying to ensure that military members and civilian employees of the Department of Defense continue receiving paychecks.

A group of the most conservative Republicans in Congress wants to block passage of the new government funding bill in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood. If they are successful in blocking the bill, military members will not receive paychecks until lawmakers resolve the situation.

The “Pay Our Military Act,” was introduced by Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado, and co-sponsored by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York.

The bill would require military pay to continue temporarily if Congress fails to pass a budget extension to keep the government running. It would also ensure that the paychecks for civilian defense personnel and contractors would continue, as well as the paychecks for National Guard troops activated in case of an emergency.

WNYF Fox 28 News reports that the legislation is similar to the one passed by Congress during the government shutdown in October 2013. The 2013 bill ensured that military members were paid during the political stalemate.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner vowed that Congress will avoid a government shutdown this week, but Coffman’s bill would give them a safety net if talks break down.

“Our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines cannot go on furlough, so it is inexcusable for them to go without pay in the event of a government shutdown,” Coffman said in a statement. “Paying our military should not be a casualty of left or right squabbling.”

Coffman also said passing the bill will allow troops to “focus on protecting us and our nation and not on whether they can keep food on the table and the lights on at home.”

In a statement, Elise Stefanik said,“It would be unconscionable for our troops and defense employees to worry about their paychecks while they serve to keep our nation safe, and that’s why I am proud to cosponsor this important piece of legislation.”

Paying military members while the rest of the government is shut down has received a mixed reaction from politicians on Capitol Hill.

Democrats argue that doing so makes a government shutdown more likely because it removes a main source of pressure on Congress.


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