While Congress has completed its work on a short-term funding fix to prevent what would be a disastrous federal shutdown, it’s long past time for lawmakers to set aside their differences and ensure all those in uniform, and all retired servicemembers, continue to receive pay during any lapse in federal funding.
[TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Elected Officials to Protect Pay for All Who Serve]
The Pay Our Troops Act (H.R. 5641), and Pay Our Military Act (H.R. 5667/S. 2835) are strong starts toward this goal. Much of the text for these bills is similar to 2013 legislation necessary to ensure servicemembers were paid during previous shutdowns; the decade-old legislation applied only to the 2014 fiscal calendar and must be renewed.
Recent legislation includes protection for the Coast Guard, but unfortunately leaves out members of the U.S. Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – an unfortunate, but common, oversight MOAA has flagged in discussions with lawmakers. It also does not address what a shutdown could mean for USPHS and NOAA retirees, who are not covered by the Military Retirement Trust Fund and could miss paychecks as a result.
The Military Coalition (TMC), of which MOAA is a founding member, is a group of 35 military and veterans service organizations (MSO/VSOs) that pools advocacy power and has continued to send a clear message to Congress to pass appropriations on time, protect servicemember pay, and improve the quality of life of those in uniform and their families.
“Many of our uniformed servicemembers are under financial stress, and endure unacceptable housing conditions and food insecurity, while our nation faces a recruiting crisis,” TMC President CW4 Jack Du Teil, USA (Ret), said. “Servicemember pay raises fell 2.6% behind the Employment Cost Index from 2014-16, and Basic Allowance for Housing was reduced 5%, all as cost-saving measures on the backs of our uniformed community. The threat of not receiving a paycheck is unacceptable for the members of our eight uniformed services.
“We urge Congress to rapidly pass the Pay our Troops Act before a lapse in appropriations. Missing a paycheck is a stress our servicemembers should not have to worry about, especially when deployed in harm’s way.”
Although a bipartisan deal on a continuing resolution (CR) has cleared the House and Senate, it is important to acknowledge these CRs are incredibly wasteful of taxpayer dollars and harmful to our national defense.
A new CR will kick the can down the road and buy time for Congress to pass the 12 appropriation bills for this fiscal year. It will also trigger automatic cuts if the federal government is not funded by the new year.
It is an important time to ask elected officials to put aside their political differences, lead by example, and keep to the schedule. The work on appropriations should have been complete before Congress went on summer recess, and is still incomplete. Our uniformed servicemembers do not have the luxury of going on recess or vacation when their mission is not complete, and Congress should stay in session, suspend all travel, and get the job done.
How You Can Help
Jump on our Legislative Action Center and engage with your representatives; of the more than 362,000 MOAA members, only about 21,000 have used the center, and we need your help.
However, you do not need to be a MOAA member to use the center. Activate your network by sending them the links above and directing them to MOAA.org/TakeAction, and encourage them to call their lawmakers via our toll-free hotline – 866-272-MOAA (6622).
Servicemembers, retirees, and their families – regardless of service branch – do not deserve the financial insecurity they face every time Congress fails to pass a timely budget. Support MOAA’s work on this issue today.
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