Troops Would Get Paid On Time During Shutdown Under Bill

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., introduced the bill. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., introduced the bill. Chris Schneider/AP

A Republican lawmaker and veteran wants to make sure troops and the civilians who support them get paid on time in the event of a government shutdown.

“The possibility of another government shutdown is on the horizon this week, so I have introduced the Pay Our Military Act,” said Rep. Mike Coffman. R- Colo., in a statement. “Our soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines cannot go on furlough, so it is inexcusable for them to go without pay in the event of a government shutdown.” The legislation would expire on Jan. 1, 2017.

The bill mandates that all active-duty, reservists, National Guard troops, as well as any civilians and contractors working in support of those forces, be paid on time regardless of the shutdown’s duration. Currently during a shutdown, those employees who remain on the job are guaranteed pay, but not until after the government reopens. Employees furloughed during a shutdown receive back pay if Congress approves it through a separate bill.

“Paying our military should not be a casualty of left or right squabbling,” said Coffman, a veteran of the Marine Corps and both wars in Iraq. “I urge my fellow members of Congress to pass this bipartisan bill so our military service members can focus on defending our nation.”

Fiscal 2016 begins on Thursday. Both chambers are working on passing a short-term continuing resolution over the next 24 to 48 hours to keep the government afloat. But it’s possible the government will be on the brink of another shutdown in a few months.

Coffman shepherded similar legislation during the 2013 government shutdown. That bill quickly became law, but expired on Jan. 1, 2015.

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