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A pox on both your houses!

Submitted by on Friday, 8 April 2011 No Comment

About a week ago,  Texas Republicans had a good idea – yeah, it’s been known to happen.

That’s when U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert introduced House Resolution 1297, the “Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act.” It now has 113 sponsors, and it would have made it clear that military personnel would have been paid in the event of a government shut.

I said “would have,” because Republican House Speaker John Boehner immediately referred it to two committees, including the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Even if the second committee assignment made sense,  the move still is not the norm, and it’s still dirty pool designed to delay a bill.

Because not a single action has been taken on the bill since it was introduced March 31, it remains clean and pristine. There are no riders in it to defund Planned Parenthood or the Environmental Protection Agency. It seems like an obvious bill to pass, and to pass quickly.

Yet, it languishes. Why?

“The House majority has now placed the funding for the Department of Defense and the funding for the troops down as a bargaining chip,” Republican Rep. Allen West, told Mother Jones on Wednesday. “I am disgusted at the perception that the leaders in my own party who did not move a defense bill earlier … are now using the men and women in uniform.”

Judging from some of the rhetoric from his House Republican colleagues, West could be onto something. “You’ve got kids in the military serving in Afghanistan and Iraq whose wives are going to be wondering, ‘Why didn’t we get paid this month?’ “Florida Rep. C.W. Young said . “If they (Democrats) want that on their conscience, we’re covered.”

Meanwhile, in the Senate, Kay Bailey Hutchinson introduced S721 on Monday. It’s stunningly similar to Gohmert’s bill, except it also would guarantee the civilians and contractors deployed overseas would be paid. The next day she introduced S724 – I’m not sure why – which does the same thing as the other two bills and now has 50 co-sponsors. That’s half the Senate if anyone’s counting.

Neither of Hutchinson’s bills has advanced either, though at least Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid assigned them to only one committee.

So there you have it. A Republican leader not moving a military pay bill on one side, and a Democratic leader not moving it on the other.

Don’t believe anyone when they say they’d be “for the military” if only the other party would act. Both parties have had ample opportunity to do the right thing. Both have instead chosen to play games, with soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and their families.

Even funnier is the rhetoric in the blogosphere, where some on the right wrap themselves in the flag and some on the left are suddenly verklempt about military families. The latter might ring a little truer if it weren’t coming from folks who have vowed to kidnap their kids to Canada rather than “let” them join the armed forces.

Radicals on both sides will probably say that I’m just another whining, self-serving military spouse unable to handle the family’s finances and crying the blues because of an unexpected emergency. Except that’s not true.

What is true: Employers in this country are legally required to pay people who work for them, and military personnel will have to work during the shutdown.

What’s also true: Politicians on both sides have had plenty of chances to fix this. They’re not going to now, no matter how many how many people sign on to Facebook campaigns, because doing so would mean the loss of a valuable bargaining chip and potential campaign talking points.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.


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