In the face of the very real possibility of a government shutdown, three of Colorado’s Republican congressmen are pushing legislation to ensure that military servicemen and women continue to receive their paychecks.
Reps. Doug Lamborn, CD-5; Cory Gardner, CD-3; and Mike Coffman, CD-6 are three of 79 Republican congressmen who signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, urging him to support a bill that would extend the federal budget through Sept. 30, keeping the government open. That way, military paychecks wouldn’t be put on hold. The House has already passed the bill, H.R. 1.
The letter and the legislation came as a response to a memo from the Department of Defense, which stated that if the federal government did shut down, then paychecks to soldiers and military staffers would be suspended.
“We have put tens of thousands of brave Americans in harm’s way to fight for freedom around the globe. In light of their sacrifice on our behalf it would be a complete abdication of your duties if the Senate refused to pass a spending bill and allowed our troops and their families to not be compensated for their services,” the letter reads.
“We call for your assurances to secure national defense funding, and in particular the salaries of our servicemen and women, regardless of the outcome of our ongoing debate on overall domestic spending.”
“Pulling these brave men and women into a policy debate, for political purposes, lack of foresight, or by mistake is wrong. Our nation’s war fighters, nor their spouses, should have to worry whether or not they, or their families, will get paid next week, next month, or next year.”
If the government does shut down, all federal employees—including troops—would eventually be paid retroactively, but their paychecks would be delayed until the government restarts. Lamborn said that’s unacceptable.
“The last thing (troops) need is to worry about whether money is getting to their families back home, that bills are being paid and food is being put on the table,” said Lamborn.
Lamborn is also co-sponsoring H.R. 1297, which would specifically provide funding for only military paychecks, instead of for the entire federal government, as H.R. 1 does. The bill has been dubbed the Ensuring Pay For Our Military Act. Lamborn said it would apply only to servicemen and women on active duty and in reserve, and not “non-essential” staffers, such as Pentagon workers.
That bill has only a slim chance of passing, Lamborn admitted. He’s pinning his hopes on a budget bill that will be voted on in the House on Thursday, that would delay the government shutdown by another week. But the bill will also include $12 billion in budget cuts, said Lamborn, so that’s also a gamble.
“I hope they don’t have a rejectionist attitude and shut the government down,” said Lamborn, referring to Senate Democrats.