A Bill to Protect Military Pay


Thanks to the severe financial crisis, this year has brought story upon story upon story which has alarmed and even caused panic among military families. Given where we currently are (or aren't), I have to believe that we're going to see more stories and more confusion as to how the state of the economy will affect military pay and benefits. There has been an internal debate on how to cover these stories at SpouseBUZZ because we're a military spouse support site with a long-standing policy of staying out of politics. But on the other hand, current events have an effect on military families and for that reason, they're hard to ignore. Plus, misinformation -- or lack of information -- breeds panic, and we want to emphasize preparedness and not panic.

After the last debacle where military families were used as political pawns, there was a lot of chatter about legislation crafted to protect military pay. Personally, I'd rather politicians kiss babies and go to ribbon-cutting ceremonies because they have a tendency not to factor in the unintended consequences of their actions, or really screw things up, but your mileage may vary. Yesterday, I read an update on the legislation. And by update, I just mean that the bill is sitting on someone's desk collecting dust.

Two weeks after a Texas congressman tried force a House vote on his bill mandating that servicemembers be paid first in the event of a government shutdown, only nine representatives have signed on. The so-called discharge petition requires 218 signatures.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, filed the bill in March only to see it stuck in committee.  During a press conference on July 14 he announced he would use a House rule that allowed members to petition to get a bill onto the floor.  At that time he expressed confidence that he’d have the backing, claiming he had 190 co-sponsors.

"We need to make sure the military, people in harm's way that are dodging bullets, never have to have it cross their minds that their paychecks may not come in," Gohmert said at the time. He was joined there by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who had filed similar legislation in the Senate, where it has also languished in committee.

I know that bills are complex and they often have extraneous pork and language tacked on. Sometimes when legislators vote against a bill, it's because the bill isn't a "clean" bill and while they may support the essential parts of the bill, they don't support all the extra additions. Armed with that knowledge, I brewed myself some tea and settled in for a long and torturous read. I was pretty sure this bill had seen no movement because it was a convoluted piece of legislation. When I downloaded the bill, I thought surely I had the wrong bill. Nope. It's a one-pager with clear and concise language that even a layperson like me can understand.

I'd like to hear more about why this hasn't moved. Perhaps there's a good reason which I haven't thought of. But in the absence of that information, I found myself surprised over the fact that a bill such as this was languishing in committee, having a mere nine signatures on a petition to move it forward in the House of Representatives. If, as many politicians claim, the military should never have to worry about pay being withheld, why would anyone object to advancing this bill? From the story linked above:

Leaders on both sides do not want to remove military pay from the debate because they believe that having it at risk will make it easier for lawmakers to go along with a deal for which they otherwise would not vote.
What this particular example says to me is that many politicians are giving lip-service to protecting military families during a time of war because the military is more valuable to politicians when they're vulnerable than when they're protected.

As expressed at the top, I tend to prefer a less-is-more approach given the current state of affairs. I'm not sure how I feel about this legislation per se, but these are merely personal preferences and issues for me to wrestle with. However, I am sure how I feel about being used as a pawn on a chess board, over and over and over again.

It's unseemly.

If you support a bill to protect military pay, you can click here and let your legislators know. No matter where you stand, strap yourselves in for a bumpy ride. Perhaps we should have a drinking game and every time someone says, "we're not sure veterans will get their pay if...." we can throw back a shot. Oh, never-mind. We can't afford to go on a months-long bender. After all, we have jobs and responsibilities, and we actually do them....

We'll keep an eye on developments as they pertain to military families, but Paycheck Chronicles and our Money Channel are great destinations where you can find 24/7 news on all-things-financial, so bookmark them, stay informed and empowered.

Note: Everyone is free to express their opinions but as stated above, we do not get into overtly political discussions at SpouseBUZZ. Personal attacks on politicians, parties or other commenters will not be tolerated and will be deleted. You can voice your opinion and thoughts, and respond to the thoughts of others, in a reasonable, civil manner.

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