Republicans refused to protect military pay as they pushed for a government shutdown a change from President Barack Obama's move to defend soldiers in 2013.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would not allow military pay to be left unmolested by the Republican Party’s decision to shut down the federal government. Once again, Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have made the military suffer as a result of their political gamesmanship.
The move, occurring at night as the Senate debated the shutdown, is a change from 2013, when the Obama administration ensured that military pay would not be disrupted by a shutdown.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced a resolution that would have secured pay for service members, noting that Trump has been trying to divide the country by invoking the military and putting the blame on Democrats if they were to go unpaid in the event of a shutdown.
She then said, “I don’t want one moment to pass with there being any uncertainty of any soldier anywhere in the world that they will be paid for the valiant work they do on behalf of our national security.”
Despite widespread concern for the issue amongst both Democratic and Republican voters, Republican leadership didn’t show any regard for protecting military pay as they moved to shut down the government.
McConnell quickly objected to McCaskill’s resolution and instead left military pay up in the air along with the other casualties of his party’s decision to grind the federal government to a halt.
The move was slammed by the military advocacy group VoteVets, who noted that Republicans were willing to use the military “as a prop” to attack Democrats, but when it came time to take substantive action, they dropped the ball.
Will Fischer, the organization’s director of government relations, noted that “veterans make up 1/3 of the entire federal workforce,” and that the Republican shutdown meant they would be “hit twice” because they will end up “missing paychecks and having benefits denied or delayed.”
In a statement to Shareblue Media, Fischer explained, “It gets harder and harder to believe that Donald Trump and the Republicans want anything other than a shutdown, when they make military pay a key talking point, but then block Democrats bill to make sure our military is paid, during a shutdown.”
He added, “Its becoming clear that shutting down the government, and holding people hostage for ransom, is the goal of Trump and Republicans. There simply is no other reason for Republicans to kill a Democratic measure to pay troops, other than to keep holding our troops and their families hostage. Its disgusting.”
In 2013, President Barack Obama signed legislation that ensured military pay would continue, uninterrupted by that year’s shutdown which was also engineered by Republicans in Congress.
In a video message to service members, Obama said, “If youre serving in harms way, were going to make sure you have what you need to succeed in your missions. Congress has passed, and I am signing into law, legislation to make sure you get your paychecks on time. And well continue working to address any impact this shutdown has on you and your families.”
That was an initiative Obama was able to make work, even though the presidency was held by a Democrat and Congress by the Republican Party.
Now, with full control of the government, Republicans have completely abandoned the military. It is a theme that has been a hallmark of Trump’s presidency. At every turn he and his Republican allies have targeted the armed forces.
He refused to honor a ceremony meant to remember fallen soldiers, is pushing to privatize veterans’ health care and upend the VA, and even launched a smear campaign against a military widow and her family and friends.
Republicans have shown their cards on the military, and have come down firmly against them. Now, they don’t even want to protect their pay.