Lawmakers who want the federal government to guarantee the
military gets paid during a debt crisis are accusing the Obama
administration and others in Congress of using the issue as
leverage in advance of any deal making on the debt.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and fellow Texas Republican Rep.
Louie Gohmert said Thursday at a news conference that leaders
of both chambers were holding up the legislation, which first
surfaced in late March as the threat of a government shutdown
loomed. Gohmert said he would file a discharge petition to force
House consideration of his measure, which has 197 co-sponsors
of both parties.
Hutchison’s bill – filed this week to replace an earlier measure —
would require that military pay and federal debt obligations be paid
first out of Treasury revenues in the event Congress does not act or
refuses to raise the debt limit, taking those concerns off the table in
now-stalled talks between the White House and congressional leaders.
It has 80 co-sponsors – more than enough to guarantee floor
consideration if all of them vote to move the bill to the floor.
Gohmert’s bill, filed March 31, is aimed strictly at guaranteeing pay
in the event of a shutdown, but he said he would offer an amendment
to incorporate Hutchison’s language on the debt limit.
“If we can ever get these bills to the floor I think there will be no
question that they will become law,” Hutchison said.
“It’s clear that they don’t want this,” she added, referring to
congressional leaders and the Obama administration.
The two lawmakers’ efforts in the spring to move the legislation
met similar roadblocks, as both GOP and Democratic leaders
focused on getting a comprehensive deal on fiscal 2011 spending —
which they eventually achieved.
But Gohmert said service members should not be pawns in the
battle over reducing the $14.3 trillion federal debt.
“We need to make sure the military — people in harm’s way that
are dodging bullets – never have to have it cross their minds that
they won’t get a paycheck,” he said. “We’re taking that off the table.”
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said the debt limit must
be raised by Aug. 2 or the Treasury would have trouble paying all
An analysis by the Bipartisan Policy Center think-tank projects that
if the debt-limit is not raised by that date, the Treasury would have
$172.4 billion to pay its bills through Aug. 31 — $134.3 billion less
than expected obligations.
Military pay represents $2.9 billion of those obligations, and interest
on Treasury securities another $29 billion.