Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

Democrats Will Support Military Pay Bill — but not Without Pause

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver complained the military pay bill would be unfair to civilian defense employees. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

 Cleaver complained the military pay bill would be unfair to civilian defense employees. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats are likely to support a stand-alone bill to cover military paychecks in the event of a government shutdown, but they say they will do so with serious reservations about the way Republicans crafted the measure.

The bill, which will be considered on the House floor Saturday night before votes to amend a Senate-passed continuing resolution, would ensure that all members of the armed services get paid if there is a sudden lapse in appropriations.

It also would allow some defense contractors to receive paychecks — but it appears to exclude civilian employees of the Defense Department who are not considered essential to supporting uniformed service members.

“Talk about the unfairness,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., emerging from a closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting on Saturday evening. “You have a military person sitting at one desk and a civilian sitting at [another] desk, and the civilian is not getting paid.”

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., gave a presentation to the members assembled in which he urged them to vote for the bill. Cleaver said Hoyer told lawmakers “about the two funerals he just spoke at today and yesterday from people who were killed” in the shooting at the Navy Yard nearly two weeks ago.

In talking about the Navy Yard victims, Hoyer “was just saying some of them were civilians,” Cleaver noted.

Other members — Rep. James P. Moran chief among them — said the bill doesn’t address funding for all the other needs service members demand.

“That’s only a matter of paying their salaries after they have been in combat, but you’re sending them into combat unprotected,” said the Virginia Democrat, whose district is home to a sizable portion of federal employees. “Ten percent of the expenses in Afghanistan is for military compensation, but 90 percent is to pay for their food and their fuel, their ammunition, their equipment, their supplies and none of that is paid for because it all comes under operations and maintenance which expires on Sept. 30, on Monday.”

And then there were those who were troubled by the message it was sending, pointing out that the inclusion of the military pay bill as one of the measures up for votes on Saturday night was clear indication that Republicans expected the government to shut down.

“I think they’re showing their hand, and it’s unfortunate, because it’s not just our military personnel who will be hurt by the government shutdown,” said Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., at a news conference after the meeting’s conclusion. “The shameful part of it is that Republicans are essentially telegraphing that they intend to shut down the government, and the only folks they are going to worry about, with the government shutdown, are the military personnel.”

  • F Michael Addams

    Hold on to the bill…wait to see if they actually do a teapublican shut down..

  • aeroguy48

    The obama administration said the military personnel wouldn’t be paid if their was a shutdown, that’s the reason for the bill. The Democrats have a small reason for survival.

  • phillyfanatic

    Dems always have a group that they can bribe for votes via money. I want our fighting people paid . I could care less that some contractor is not paid on time. They will get it in due time. The Dems are the ones hoping for the shut down. It is the only way that they can brainwash the low info voters.

  • George Allegro

    The forces of today’s liberalism are the same forces that impelled its marxist, socialist, and communist ancestors.

  • Jeannette

    UNFAIR is you, Mr. Cleaver, being paid when the DOD civilian is not. This would be much less of a crisis if our “representatives'” pay was on the line.

  • Jeffrey Kuhl

    Who sits at a desk?

    • jeffwarren2


  • Socialism: Organized Evil

    In this YouTube video, the Memphis Trotsky – Steve Cohen – attacks Christians while waging ideological warfare against the Bill of Rights:

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