The House appeared to be working toward a deal Monday on a short-term continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown Wednesday while preparing contingencies to make sure that the troops continue to get paid in the event that negotiations break down.
A spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Tex., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said the goal of a continuing resolution would be to continue funding the government at current levels until Dec. 11 while seeking a long-term solution.
However, compromise in December on funding will become even more difficult with Freedom Caucus GOP conservatives as decisions will also have to be taken at the same time on raising the national debt limits.
At a news conference last Friday, Thornberry said that an emergency bill was being worked up to continue to pay servicemenbers if the government shuts down Wednesday.
"We're ready to go with that if it gets to that point," Thornberry. "I hope it doesn't get to that point. I don't really think it will, but we're trying to be ready for contingencies."
Negotiations on avoiding a shutdown have been complicated by the stunning announcement last week by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that he would resign by December and the push by House and Senate conservatives to defund Planned Parenthood.
Boehner was expected to move before Wednesday on a continuing resolution that could include funding for Planned Parenthood. It was believed that he had enough votes to pass the resolution.
Separately, House conservatives were moving on a separate bill to defund Planned Parenthood. The bill would face the certainty of a veto by President Obama but at least give the conservatives the consolation of having moved the bill to the president's desk.
The Military Officers Association of America warned that "the short-term CR (continuing resolution) is only the tip of the political iceberg looming ahead. To start with, no one knows if the post-Boehner House leadership will take an even harder line on budget issues."
The MOAA also noted that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and others have already said that they won't vote for any more continuing resolutions past this week because another CR in their estimation would devastate national security.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars also charged that Congress was shirking its duties by failing to deal with the cost-cutting sequestration process under the Budget Control Act.
"Sequestration is the most significant threat to military readiness and national security of the 21st century," d VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki, Jr., said in a statement last week. "Despite almost universal Congressional opposition to it, no member of the House or Senate has yet introduced any legislation to end it, which makes zero sense to veterans, servicemembers or their families."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org