New Mexico – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman joined a bipartisan group of senators today in cosponsoring the Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act of 2011 (S. 724) to assure that military personnel continue to be paid in the event of a government shutdown.
The lawmakers urged efforts to prevent a shutdown of government operations, but stressed that a contingency plan must be in place for America's service men and women. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and cosponsored by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John Hoeven (R-ND), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).
"A government shutdown would hurt hardworking New Mexicans and jeopardize our economy's fragile recovery. That's why I'm urging my Senate colleagues to put aside partisan politics and make a deal before tomorrow's deadline," Udall said. "But in the unfortunate event that the government is forced to shut down, our men and women in uniform - who put their lives on the line every day for our country - should not have to worry about whether they're going to be able to provide for their families. With this legislation, we help give military men and women the assurance that they'll be able to pay the bills during this uncertain time."
"A government shutdown would be disruptive to Americans and potentially harm our economy. But it also would hurt the pocketbooks of many families employed by the federal government. This proposal would ensure that the men and women protecting our country and its interests would not be financially punished by a potential shutdown," Bingaman said.
The Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act of 2011 would make available the necessary funds to prevent an interruption in pay for members of the military if there is a funding gap resulting from a government shutdown. Additionally, a provision is included to give the Secretary of Defense the discretion to allow those who serve as DOD civilians or contractors in support of our men and women in uniform to continue to be paid as well.
Any government shutdown would affect our military personnel, many of whom are deployed. There are currently 90,000 troops in Afghanistan and more than 45,000 in Iraq.
The Defense Department has yet to establish concrete guidelines as to how a possible shutdown would affect service members' pay, but a draft planning memo did mention that all military personnel would be required to show up to work, regardless of whether they would be paid during the shutdown.
A similar measure, H.R. 1297, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Louie Gohmert (Texas-R-1) last week.