Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) today joined Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) in introducing legislation that would prevent any disruption in military salaries during a government shutdown. The move comes amid growing concern that servicemembers and their families could suffer as a result of a failure to reach agreement on a budget solution for the remainder of the year.
"Our troops should not suffer for Washington's failure to act," said Kingston. "As the representative of more than 80,000 troops who are in and out of war zones, I know they and their families cannot afford a missed or late paycheck. Regardless of what happens in politics, we should ensure that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are paid."
The "Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act of 2011" would authorize the Secretary of Defense to continue to provide pay and allowances without interruption to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps who perform service during any funding gap. Without action on the measure such funds could be delayed or withheld.
"During the government shutdown in 1995, soldiers were paid because the Defense Department had already been funded through the year," said Kingston. "We're not in that position now so it's important that we don't leave our troops on the line."
As a result of the failure of the previous Congress to enact a budget, the government has been funded through a series of short-term spending bills known as continuing resolutions (CRs). Since the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1, Congress has enacted six of these stop-gap measures but has failed to reach an agreement for the remainder of the year. The most recent CR is set to expire April 8.
The debate centers over how deep spending cuts should go. House Republicans passed a measure that would save $100 billion in comparison to President Obama's funding request for the year introduced last February. The Democrat-controlled Senate has been unable to pass any measure and President Obama has offered no new plan going forward.