Lawmakers want military pay out of budget fight
Published: July 14, 2011
WASHINGTON – Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said he’s tired of lawmakers using military paychecks as political leverage in the current federal budget battles. That includes Democratic and Republican leaders, both of whom have ignored his efforts to take the issue off the table.
“We need to be making sure that people whose lives are at risk don’t have to worry whether that check is coming in,” he said. “It’s unconscionable.”
On Thursday, he and fellow Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison renewed their 4-month-old effort to pass legislation mandating that military paychecks continue even in the case of a government shutdown or impasse on the debt ceiling debate.
So far, Republicans leaders in the House have ignored his calls to bring the matter to the House floor, so Gohmert – and his 190 co-sponsors, he hopes – will sign on to a discharge petition to force a vote on the matter. It’s a long shot, but Gohmert said he hopes another round of threats regarding a military pay stoppage in August will help push the issue ahead.
Gohmert said he’s heard from numerous freshman lawmakers supportive of his effort, who said the only reason they voted to avert a government shutdown in April was because of the perceived threat to military pay.
“This is leverage to get people to vote for bills they don’t want to,” he said. “They know people do not want to vote in such a way that it causes the military not to be paid. Let’s take this off the table, so we can talk about things on their merits, not because of scare tactics.”
Gohmert needs 218 signatures to force a vote on the issue. Hutchison said she’s optimistic that the bill can get through the Senate if the House can pass it, although Democrats have voiced objections to the issue in that chamber.
Hutchison also said she plans to add language ensuring that Social Security payments are also protected. Treasury officials have not released any plans of what expenditures might be stopped or delayed if a debt ceiling extension is not agreed to by Aug. 2.