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Mrs. NOEM. I appreciate that, and thank the gentleman for yielding to me.
I am one of the new Members of Congress that has first come here tonight, this is the first opportunity I have had to give a Special Order. And I cannot think of a better reason to be here tonight than to make sure that our military men and women have the opportunity to receive pay for their hard work and for their service to our country.
I think it's extremely important that we focus on all of the important things that this Congress is doing and the important things that this Republican Conference in the House is doing, because we recognized that from the very beginning we took every action possible to ensure that our military could get paid. We started with our first bill that addressed the spending problems that this country has, H.R. 1. We brought it to the House
floor. We changed the way that this House does business by having an open process on the House floor. Hundreds of amendments were offered. And that bill ensured that paying our military was a priority from us. It got the job done. It did the work that the previous Congress did not do.
The previous Congress did not choose to make that a priority. They did not choose to wrap up the business of fiscal year 2011. They left that for us to do. Then they left us in a big hole as far as the debt that this country is accumulating. We came in as the adults at the table.
When our President talks about having adult conversations addressing the spending in this country and addressing the budget resolution that we need to come to, the only ones who have been doing that from the very beginning have been the Republicans in the House. We came with H.R. 1, with real spending cuts that would put us on a much better path, that funded our military. Because we wanted to take care of them. We recognized that their families were at home while their spouses and family members were at war, and they were trying to make ends meet while that was going on.
I will tell you that I feel that the Democrats are holding our troops hostage, that they truly are. Because they choose to do that so they can spend more money. They choose to hold them hostage and their pay hostage because they want to help this country accumulate more debt. And it's unacceptable. You know, we voted to fully fund their pay, to fund our troops through fiscal year 2011 through H.R. 1, and we are still dedicated to that, and still pursuing that because it's a very high priority for us.
I will tell you that the Department of Defense is allowed to continue operations without appropriations because of its authority to protect the national security. But I will also tell you the military personnel are scheduled to receive their paychecks on April 15. Now, if this government truly does shut down, if it truly does shut down tomorrow night, they will only receive 1 week's pay instead of the 2 that they are owed. And that is not right.
When you look at people who are at war overseas, standing on that wall so we can sleep safely in our beds at night and we are telling them we are not going to pay them for doing that, then that is truly a travesty, and a travesty that we should not allow to happen. And if this shutdown were to continue and to continue on and on and they would not be paid, we cannot do that to their families.
People talk about the debt that this country accumulates. And they recognize the fact that it is a big deficit, that it continues to accumulate. The way that I talk about it back home in South Dakota is that months ago, when I was making the analogy and talking about the fact that our country borrows 40 cents out of every dollar that it spends, well just in the few short months since I was talking about that back in October and November, now it's we borrow 42 cents out of every dollar. I used to tell my son you owe $42,000. You are responsible for that. That's the amount of our Federal debt that you are responsible for. Well, just in a few short months now he is responsible for almost $46,000. You know, that boy is 8 years old. That boy is 8 years old, and he owes that kind of money because of the irresponsibility of this government and because of the irresponsibility of the previous Congress and the Congresses before that that did not get this spending under control.
That's what we are trying to address today. And that's why we are making sure we are addressing the spending cuts, we are being much more responsible in what we are proposing, and we are also making it a priority to make sure that our military gets funded. You know, I think that it is absolutely discouraging to see that we are even having to pursue the priority of funding our military during these times, and that it is being held hostage literally through these discussions that have gone on. It doesn't seem reasonable or fair to ask our military men and women to have to worry about the types of situations that they would be put in.
Many of them live paycheck to paycheck just like a lot of families are during this recession in America right now. They are having a tough time. How do they make their car payment? How do they make their housing payment? When they are out there standing and serving our country, we are telling their families that we are putting their ability to even pay their bills in jeopardy.
Then you look at the situation that we are accumulating more and more debt in this country. That is only going to lead to higher inflation. It's only going to devalue the dollar. I was talking to someone last week about what that really means. When you talk to people on the street about what does it mean when the dollar is devalued? Well, what that means is that maybe that loaf of bread that that military wife needs to go buy next week when she only has half of a paycheck, well, someday instead of costing her $2 it will cost her $4. Maybe it will cost her $6.
So we are telling her not only are we putting you in the situation where you are going to be faced with high inflation, that you are going to be faced with a dollar that's not worth as much as it used to be because people in Washington, D.C. couldn't have some discipline in their spending habits, couldn't make the tough decisions; well, on top of all of that, then we are going to keep your spouse's pay. On top of that we're not going to pay him even though he is risking his life for our country. It absolutely is wrong. And it absolutely needs to stop.
Mortgages don't stop. Bills don't stop. Car payments don't stop. How do we expect these men and women to continue paying for their everyday living expenses when they have no paycheck? In South Dakota we have an Air Force base, Ellsworth Air Force Base.
We have 1,000 civilians that work there and over 3,000 military personnel. Those people are extremely special to me. Not all of them grew up in South Dakota, but they are all living there in South Dakota, and they are all serving this country. And I think that a government shutdown not only affects these individuals, but it also is going to impact that local economy where they are trying to raise their children and raise their families.
Two Ellsworth Air Force Base B-1 bombers were recently involved in the Libyan military strikes. Missions like Odyssey Dawn are likely to continue whether the government shuts down or not. These missions are risky, they are costly, they are vital for our national security.
Doesn't it seem unreasonable that the Democrats here in Washington, D.C., would put those servicemen and -women in harm's way to protect our freedoms and then not compensate them for the work that they have done simply because they want to spend more money and they want to put this country further into debt?
These are all the reasons why I have fought on every CR to make sure our military men and women get paid, why we are continuing to do that, and I thank you for bringing this bill. It is critical if for no other reason I have had family members that have served, I have had friends that have served, friends that have been overseas and have stood on that line so that we could continue to live the kind of freedom and have the kind of liberty that we have in this country today.
But even if I didn't, I am an American; and I recognize the importance of having them there to protect us and to protect our future, and I am grateful every single day for the sacrifice and service that they offer to us. It is completely inappropriate for us to play politics with military pay.
We owe these men and women at least some financial stability in return for all of their service that they provide to us, to our children and to our country.
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