WASHINGTON, DC: Last night, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) introduced legislation to ensure members of the military are paid in the event of a government shutdown. Titled the Pay Our Troops Act, Kiggans’ bill will protect members of the military, including the Coast Guard, as well as certain U.S. Department of Defense civilian employees and contractors should Congress fail to provide temporary or full-year federal funding by September 30, 2023.
Currently, if the government shuts down without a funding bill for the Department of Defense signed into law, those serving in our Armed Forces will not receive their paychecks. Only those deemed “essential” would receive back pay once a shutdown ends and new federal funding is approved. Kiggans is a former Navy helicopter pilot who has a long history of military service in her family.
“I will not allow the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our country go without pay,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “Our servicemembers shouldn’t suffer because of Washington’s dysfunction. As we continue working to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month, this legislation will give our troops the financial certainty they deserve. At a time where inflation and interest rates continue to hurt our military families, we must continue to get our economy back on track by cutting wasteful spending but we must also ensure our military gets a paycheck.”
Congresswoman Kiggans’ bill would make available such sums from the Treasury as are necessary to provide pay for our Armed Forces as well as civilian employees and contractors of the Department of Defense whose responsibilities are determined by the Secretary of Defense to contribute to the mission execution, well-being, and readiness of the Armed Forces.
“The Pay our Troops Act will ensure that members of the Armed Forces are paid on time when there is a lapse in appropriations,” said MOAA president and CEO Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret). “During government shutdowns, our dedicated uniformed servicemembers professionally continue to safeguard our national security – at the risk of not being paid unless legislation directs their pay. Government shutdowns and uncertainty of pay and benefits directly contribute to our current recruiting crisis; the Pay Our Troops Act would directly support stability for servicemembers and their families.”
“The men and women serving in America’s Armed Forces risk their lives to protect us,” said Navy League National President Christopher Townsend. “Now, it is our turn to protect them. The Navy League of the United States supports Congresswoman Kiggans’ effort to safeguard pay for military servicemembers, and the men and women serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, in the event of a lapse in government funding.”
“We cannot allow the government shutdown to undermine our troops and their families,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, Founder and CEO of Blue Star Families. “A government shutdown without this provision would stop military pay, and we know that one in three service families have less than $3,000 in savings – not enough to cover the cost of housing and daycare in most places. Putting our families at financial risk puts our national security at risk and we simply can’t allow that to happen. Thank you Representative Kiggans for creating sandbags around the worst effects of a government shutdown.”
Based on the latest Defense Department survey of U.S. troops, some 286,800 in the active-duty force — or nearly one in four military servicemembers — experience “low food security.” The figures do not count the spouses or children of those troops, nor do the numbers include reservists and their families.
According to the Pentagon, there are about 804,000 civilian defense employees. Roughly 166,000 of those employees do not rely on congressional funding and would continue to work during a shutdown. Almost 200,000 would be required to work without pay because they are considered “necessary to protect life and property.”