WASHINGTON – Troops would continue to get their paychecks and other benefits on time if the government shuts down, under a bill proposed Friday by a Texas lawmaker.
Congress has been unable to pass a budget for this fiscal year, so it has passed several short-term spending measures to continue funding the government at last year’s levels. The latest measure ends April 8. Lawmakers have three options: Agree on a budget by then, pass another temporary spending measure, or shut down the government.
The possibility of a government shutdown has caused troops to worry that they won’t get paid on time, prompting U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, to introduce a bill to make sure troops could continue to get base and special pays as well as benefits if a shutdown happens.
“When we heard that the military was concerned about whether or not they would get paid on time, then we rushed through and we got this bill done,” Gohmert said at a news conference on Friday. “We’re getting widespread support. We’ve got people in the Senate wanting to carry it over there and get it done.”
The normal philosophical divisions that divide Republicans and Democrats do not apply to the issue of making sure troops get paid, said U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., who is co-sponsoring the bill.
“We believe that we will get bipartisan support on this bill,” said Kingston, who represents Fort Stewart. “We’re thinking it can move through the House very quickly and move through the Senate, which doesn’t do anything quickly.”
There are also practical reasons why this bill has a good chance of passing, said U.S. Rep. John R. Carter, a fellow Republican lawmaker on Texas who sits on the House Appropriations Committee.
“I don’t think anybody in either party wants to see that picture of a young wife with a baby on her hip looking into the camera and saying, ‘We couldn’t pay our mortgage and we couldn’t pay our house payment – my husband has just been wounded over in Afghanistan and I don’t know what I’m going to do,’” he said.