Govt. shut down: Political football with military families

Govt. shut down: Political football with military families

I received an email message yesterday from a military wife who shared a message she received about military pay being delayed during the government shut down. If that actually happens, it could be one of the ugliest, most devious messages from our government.

According to the email, military families will only receive their base pay, and not  their housing allowances or other standard expenses.

Government shut down

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The government shutdown has not impacted most Americans. And the media seems mostly to be covering the impacts to federal employees, who will receive back pay as well as unemployment.

However, the awful story about the government shut down of the National Veterans Memorial, merely provoked 91 aging WWll veterans to push through the barricades in front of their memorial on the National Mall last week.

Then there was the story about elderly residents being forced out of their private homes on Lake Mead, located on federal land.

And today it was reported two Army Rangers who died in Afghanistan over the weekend and two other military service members, will have their $100,000 immediate death benefits delayed by the partial government shutdown, according to McClatchy news.

Some military pay will be withheld

The military wife who contacted me said our Military families are being warned they will not  receive all of their pay on Oct 15th.  The following is a notice she copied into an email to me, received yesterday from their Commands:

“All, I'm sure that all of you have heard about the resolution passed protecting our paychecks.  I hate doing this but that is very misleading.  Currently, there is no legal authority for that to happen.  The following is a paragraph from a Pay & Allowance Advisory Notice (PAAN) that was published to the finance and admin community yesterday:

“3. REFERENCE (A) APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR FY-14 ARE NECESSARY TO PROVIDE PAY AND ALLOWANCES TO MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES, INCLUDING RESERVE COMPONENTS, WHO ARE PERFORMING ACTIVE DUTY. THE FUNDS APPROPRIATED ARE  CONTINGENT UPON THE U.S. TREASURY PROVIDING THE MONEY OUT OF FUNDS NOT OTHERWISE APPROPRIATED. AT PRESENT THE U.S. TREASURY HAS NOT OFFICIALLY IDENTIFIED WHICH FUNDS ARE AVAILABLE FOR THIS PURPOSE NOR ISSUED A TREASURY WARRANT. AS A RESULT, NO LEGAL AUTHORITY CURRENTLY EXISTS FOR ANY FY-14 PAYMENTS.”  Reference (A) is House Resolution 3210.

I have received other traffic stating that the resolution is still currently under legal review.  But, the end state here is that the Treasury Department does not have a source from which to pull these funds.  Please ensure that our junior Marines know about this.  Especially those who don't bank with a military affiliated institution.”

“These families live payday to payday,” she explained. “To not be paid their housing allowance or other pay outside of 'base pay' is not right.  I find it interesting that there has not been any mention of this in the 'Main Stream Media,' she said.”

Pay Our Military Act

I made a few informal inquiries, but no one I spoke with had heard of this backhanded order. And then I found the Pay Our Military Act passed on Sept. 28.

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House Resolution 3210 covers all of the military expenses:

 H.R. 3210 , “making continuing appropriations for military pay in the event of a Government shutdown, by a yea-and-nay vote of 423 yeas with none voting “nay'', Roll No. 499.”

The second part of the HR vote had 191 members of Congress voting “no.”

H. Res. 366, the rule providing for consideration of the Senate amendment to the joint resolution (H. J. Res. 59) and providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 3210 ) was agreed to by a yea-and-nay vote of 231 yeas to 191 nays, Roll No. 495, after the previous question was ordered by a yea-and-nay vote of 229 yeas to 192 nays, Roll No. 494.”

The Pay Our Military Act was passed before the government shut down, and signed into law by President Barack Obama supposedly in anticipation of the shut down. But some are saying there is a loophole in the House Resolution which does not cover paying the families of military members.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wrote a letter and memorandum Saturday, Oct. 4, explaining he would recall nearly all of the 400,000 civilian employees of the Defense Department who had been sent home under the government shut down.

But there was nothing in his letter or memo affirmatively saying the pay for the rank and file military, and all of their housing and other expected expenses, would be covered.

Could politicians be playing political football with military members? This appears to be a Department of Defense decision.

I will follow up after speaking with the DOD today.

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