As the final budget agreement to avoid a government shutdown gets signed into law today, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced new legislation to ensure that military personnel continue to be paid in the event of any future government shutdown. The recent budget debate that threatened a shut down made clear that a contingency plan must be in place for our service men and women to ensure their wages were not disrupted.
Senator Stabenow cosponsored emergency legislation last week to ensure that if the an agreement on the 2011 budget was not reached by the deadline, troops would continue to be paid this year throughout any shutdown. However, that bill was only a temporary stop-gap measure, and Stabenow has now authored legislation that would fix this problem permanently. Texas Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison and Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey were the first to sign on as cosponsors of the measure.
"The idea that our troops' paychecks could be disrupted while fighting to protect our country is unacceptable," said Senator Stabenow. "We need to act now to make sure that if public services are stopped, later this year or any time in the future, our servicemen and women will not face any uncertainty in providing for their families. Military families should never be punished because of partisan politics in Washington."
Senator Stabenow has also been a leader in the effort to stop paychecks for Members of Congress if a shutdown occurs. She cosponsored legislation mandating that paychecks be stopped for Members of Congress during a government shutdown that passed the Senate over a month ago, and has repeatedly called on House leadership to pass the measure. That measure would dock Congress' pay during any potential shutdown in the future.
Senator Stabenow also signed a pledge to refuse pay if the government ever shutdown. She would instead donate her pay to charity each and every day that public services were shuttered.
"If Congress causes a government shutdown, Congress shouldn't get paid," said Stabenow. "We need to pass these bills to guarantee that troops get paid during a shutdown and Congress does not, and we need to make that guarantee permanent."
Stabenow's Pay Our Troops Act of 2011 would make available the necessary funds to prevent an interruption in pay for members of the military if there is a funding gap resulting from any government shutdown not matter when in the future one occurred. There are currently 90,000 troops in Afghanistan and more than 45,000 in Iraq. Many of these troops have spouses, children and other family that here in the U.S. that rely on their pay for housing, food, and other necessities.