Op-Eds

Protecting Our Military and Veterans from a Government Shutdown

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Washington, DC, September 26, 2013 | comments

In just a few days the current fiscal year ends and unless the Senate passes a continuing resolution to keep the government open, we will face a government shutdown. If the Senate takes up and passes the House-approved bill, a shutdown would be avoided and our military and veterans would continue to receive their pay and services as they should. Unfortunately that scenario is far from certain.

With so many variables in the days ahead, my focus right now is ensuring pay continues for our military men and women and that veterans programs continue in the event that we do face a government shutdown. Their paychecks should never be in question while Congress and the President debate on how to fund the government.

That’s why I introduced the Pay Our Veterans and Seniors First Act. I want to take proactive steps now to ensure our troops, veterans, and seniors are secured from a shutdown’s impact. The bill ensures troop pay while cutting off pay to Congress and the President for the duration of the shutdown.

Under current federal law, Members of Congress, the President, Vice President and heads of Executive Agencies and Departments will continue to receive pay even if government funding bills are not passed by the September 30th deadline and the government is shut down. The fact that Congress and the President are paid during a shutdown even though members of the military are not is completely backwards and unacceptable.

In my family the military ethics of honor, integrity and commitment to our nation are ethics to live by. As a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, my father instilled those values early on in my eleven siblings and myself. They are values to be always respected – as our service men and women protect us, we must do whatever we can to protect them.   

Our troops are the same men and women risking their lives day in and day out for our country. They continue serving the country – often times thousands of miles away from their families for months or years at a time – with or without a government shutdown. At the very least, we must ensure they receive timely paychecks. Our military men and women should never go a single day having to wonder if they will be paid in full or on time.

Obviously our hope is that the Senate acts and a shutdown is avoided, but we need to be prepared and have protections in place for our military and veterans. Working through our government’s financial hurdles should not come at the expense of our troops. Just like everyday Americans, Congress and the government have jobs to do. Our message is a simple one: lawmakers must complete one of their primary responsibilities or forfeit pay.  

With the clock ticking, inaction is not fair to our troops, veterans, seniors, and countless American workers who would be impacted by a shutdown. I will continue to fight to make Pay Our Veterans and Seniors First Act law and encourage other Members of Congress to join me in standing with our men and women in uniform to protect their pay while they protect us. They deserve nothing less.  

View the op-ed in Defense Policy here.

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Tags: Veterans