Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | April 6, 2011

Get Out the Word: Military Pay in Question, and What You Can Do

Signals from the White House have been firming up this week on whether paychecks will continue for active duty military during a government shutdown.  Unfortunately, as of today (Wednesday, 6 April), the trend is in a negative direction.  The mainstream media are reporting that there’s a good chance military pay will be suspended after 8 April.  In practical terms, this means there will be a 15 April paycheck containing pay through the 8th (half the normal semi-monthly amount), and nothing after that until the shutdown is over.

Obviously, there are questions about why the Obama administration is emitting signals like this.  They are politically stupid; no significant constituency thinks the US budget battle has to be fought across the monthly bills of our fighting men and women.

The possibility that the military will be required to continue on duty without pay also highlights one of the important differences between the military and the rest of the federal government.  The government can’t require its civilian work force to operate without pay.  Its only options, with the civilian work force, are furloughing employees and shutting down services.  The civilian work force is protected by union agreements and labor laws in this regard.  The troops are not.

We can hope that Democrats in Congress will help Obama think better of waging the fight in this manner.  Things may well look different by Friday.  But if you want to help things look different, contact your senators and US representative about two bills that were introduced in the last week to ensure that the active duty military keeps getting paid.

Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Jack Kingston (R-GA) sponsored H.R. 1297, the House version of the Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act.  The status of the bill at the moment is unclear, but this report indicates it was still in committee as of Tuesday, 5 April.

Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) introduced the Senate version of the Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act, S. 724, today. It’s too early for information on its status.

If this issue is not resolved by Friday, and you want to help the families of active duty military members (many of whom are young, with kids, and live paycheck to paycheck), the service aid/relief societies are a good place to start.  They specialize in providing food, household items, short-term loans, and other assistance to military families in distress.  If there is an extended federal government shutdown (which we can reasonably hope will not be the case), the relief societies will quickly be stretched to the max.  They will appreciate donations.  Here are their websites:

Army Emergency Relief

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

Air Force Aid Society

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance

We don’t have to let the troops down.  I know Americans will step up to the plate on this one.

J.E. Dyer blogs at Hot Air’s Green Room and Commentary’s “contentions.” She writes a weekly column for Patheos.


  1. My son is coming home from AF next weekend after 51 weeks. Unless, of course, expenses to return soldiers stateside is determined to be nonessential.

    What interesting times in which we live.

  2. Richard Belzer — I certainly hope the funds are there to get your son home safe, sound, and on schedule. Interesting times, indeed.

  3. Wow, thanks for the info and the insight. I saw on Fox a while ago that congress people will continue to get paid, and am thinking it’s backward that the people who can’t get their job done will keep drawing pay, while my husband may not be paid but you better believe he’ll be at work fulfilling his duty. The congress has continually been at about a 23% approval rating for three years now, and finally some of them got fired in November. If my husband did his job as poorly as these congresspeople (and executive branch too lately), he would have been “chaptered out” of the service a long time ago. I know my state reps will do the right thing. Just praying for enough others to get it right too.

    • Whole lotta prayin’ goin’ on, Phubbie. That your pay will continue uninterrupted, among many other things!

  4. Great – I’m supposed to go on temporary duty assignment to Germany on 10 April. The way it works nowadays, I pay all expenses up-front with my government credit card, and I’m reimbursed when I file a travel voucher upon my return.

    So if I’m not being paid for the time being, I’m still supposed to lend the government money to send me on temporary duty, and I’ll still be expected to pay that credit card bill when it comes due – paychech or no paycheck.

    If I refuse to go, I’m failing to obey orders. If I go, I may incur a debt that I’m not sure I can repay in a timely manner, which could impact my career.

    Catch 22, new edition.

    Linked at my blog. Thanks.

    • Steven — I remember those Catch 22s well. Surely your boss/command will be looking out for you, and not require you to load the government credit card if the travel funds are uncertain. Fun times.

  5. […] Optimisic Conservative is reporting that the White House is threatening, in the event of a government shutdown, to interrupt pay for […]

  6. service in the military is voluntarily and not offering pay is a step toward insuring that.
    the Republicans are doing wonderful work in so many ways, including helping to prove that are military personnel aren’t only in it for the money.

    love that the Republicans can defund the government and someone who calls herself a conservative would hint that the executive branch should be responsible for defying the legislative prerogative.

    • I’d thought you were better than your comment indicates fuster. Or is it simple defensiveness and as a result, inappropriate deflection?

      You, I and everyone else knows that this threat is coming from the democrats and is, at the least, condoned by the administration. Whether its an empty threat designed to intimidate or actually intended, there’s no way this would even be suggested, much less threatened by republicans. Just the suggestion reveals the depth of animosity towards the military, held by some in the democrat party.

      I find it hard to credit that as a group the dems could be this tone deaf. But if the dems actually follow through with this, the repercussions will be a profound game-changer as the public’s disapproval ratings of both Obama and the dems will plummet. It would also reveal that the depth and breath of animosity towards the military had become endemic to the democratic party. A ‘fifth column’ in all but name.

      Some things are beyond the pale and this is manifestly one of them.

      The non-political nature of the military is critically important and for dems to try to use this nation’s military as a political football, by holding military personnel as economic hostages, unequivocally demonstrates their unfitness for office.

      If this comes to pass, it skirts near treason and demands impeachment.

      • Geoffrey—-Some things are beyond the pale and this is manifestly one of them.

        The non-political nature of the military is critically important—–

        sorry if my sarcasm upset you, Geofrey,but

        why are salaries for the military beyond the pale? Why are they more important than school lunch programs? NIH funding or any of a dozen other things?

        why would a salary suspension disturb the non-political nature of the military?

        I understand none of your claims. ill-conceived budget battles are nothing new and there’s not a reason on Earth to suggest that money for the military isn’t a huge part of the thing as money for the military is an enormous part of the government budget.

        if you and others want to take the threats seriously, that’s fine but why is this threat more noxious than others?

        • I’ll try to explain but given that I have too, it’s somewhat doubtful that you”ll understand because to do so requires shared premises, otherwise the extending logic will be unconvincing.

          Many things are beyond the pale, not just allowing military pay to lapse. That said, military personnel volunteer to, if necessary die to preserve our freedoms and right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for us, which regardless of their having volunteered, places a reciprocal burden upon the citizenry.

          That reciprocal burden, in order to be proportionate has to include a degree of respect commensurate with the potential sacrifice they have assumed, those who are prepared to give; “the last full measure of devotion”. Should Democrats in Congress and the President unnecessarily allow their pay to expire, they are profoundly and fundamentally disrespecting that reciprocal obligation.

          The Republicans have offered a solution which respects that obligation, if the President and the Democrats feel that it is inadequate or flawed, rejecting the Republican plan does not lessen their obligation to offer an alternative solution which meets their obligation to the military. They have not done so and so, by rejecting the Republican plan while offering no other alternative, they hold the military as economic hostages, using the military as a political football for political gain. In this case, by insisting upon the immediate continuance of their pet programs, such as the funding of Planned Parenthood.

          The President and the Democrats, by these actions, demonstrate their unworthiness of the sacrifice the military is currently engaged in and consequently their unfitness for office.

          To answer your other questions;

          School lunch programs, while certainly important are not in the same category as the military’s potential sacrifice, to suggest otherwise is to reveal a profound lack of respect for the sacrifice from which you benefit.

          It is not a salary suspension which will alone, disturb the non-political nature of the military, it is using the military as a political football and eroding societal respect for the military because it demonstrates contempt for the military’s unique sacrifice, which shall disturb the non-political nature of the military.

          I am not suggesting that funding non-critical military programs like military research, must be excluded from budget battles. I am stating that military pay and funding necessary for immediate defense be excluded from budget battles.

          Nor am I disagreeing that other critical funding for things like emergency response services, the FBI, CIA, FAA etc. should be excluded from budget battles, as obviously they are critical.

          Hopefully you now understand, if not, you are being willfully obtuse and in effect, spitting upon the graves of those who lie at rest in Arlington National Cemetery. IMO, an action that in spirit, if not legally, abrogates your American citizenship.

          • Geoffrey, you have no idea of how well I understand what the military does or might be asked to do.

            but leave that aside.

            the failure to issue paychecks to military personnel likely leads to less suffering than does the absence of salary to civilian employees.

            the military is still going to be sheltered and fed until the money resumes.

            the Republicans wish to impose an across-the-board shutdown do impose a budget that suits their desires.

            if no one is to receive funding, then no one is to receive funding.
            that’s their tactic and allowing them to escape the blame for the consequences of such action is a poor political move for the Democrats.

            • “the failure to issue paychecks to military personnel likely leads to less suffering than does the absence of salary to civilian employees.”

              And what of those military paychecks that are sent home to the wife and child so *they* can have food and shelter and pay bills?

              • RE, beside having at least one member of the family fed by Uncle, the dependents of military personnel will have free food and rapid and easy loans extended to them.
                they really would suffer less than the civilians.

                not that it’s ever going to happen. the whole thing is just a set of negotiating tactics and the Republicans aren’t going to carry out the threat to crash the government.

  7. Well stated Geoffrey.
    I can almost see the hand going up in a meeting. Hey, I have a great idea!!!!!!! Let’s blackmail the military personnel during the comical govt shutdown reality show. We will surely garner overwhelming support from the American people. Everyone get on point.
    Let the walkback begin.

  8. ——As the negotiations continued, the House of Representatives began a heated debate over a Republican offer to finance the Defense Department for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year and the rest of the government for one more week, at a cost of $12 billion in further cuts to domestic spending. But the White House issued a statement that the president would veto any such legislation, and in any event the bill, which was likely to pass the House on a party-line vote, had no chance of passing in the Senate.

    “This bill is a distraction from the real work that would bring us closer to a reasonable compromise,” the veto message said.

    House Democrats asked instead for passage of a one-week extension free of any further spending cuts or policy restrictions, which Mr. Obama said he would agree to, but Republicans brushed that off. “We don’t accept the status quo,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader.———-

    politics Geoffrey, politics

    as usual.

  9. I bet Obama’s buddy Hugo Chavez pays his military even if there’s not enough for Planned Parenthood.

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