H.R. 1297 Status Update

Just when I think that I’ve seen it all…

The Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act of 2011, officially called House Resolution 1297, has somehow been managed to be stashed in committee and is not currently on the House agenda for this week.  OpenCongress.org reports that the last activity on this bill was on 31 March 2011, when it was referred to Referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  I somewhat understand the politics behind not addressing this issue immediately, but I am concerned about the message this sends.  In my mind, this bill should have been fast-tracked to the floor for an immediate vote.  I know that politicians need to use every tool in their arsenal to do what they think is best, but honestly, folks, we’re talking about pay for our military!

As I previously reported, this sensible and appreciated legislation would provide for military members to receive pay, allowances and benefits even if a funding gap results in a government shutdown.  In a country where citizens proudly display “Support Our Troops” bumper stickers and where patriotism and military service go hand-in-hand with apple pie and baseball, I am truly shocked that any politician would fail to take immediate, positive action on this bill.  There is no budget issue here – the military will eventually get paid regardless of what political maneuvering occurs.  This is a simple matter of ensuring the our troops are protected from being unintended victims of the current political debates, by guaranteeing that their pay will arrive on time regardless of what happens with the federal budget.

There hasn’t been much coverage of this topic in the popular media.  TheHill.com has done a short piece that confusingly (in my mind) talks about two different bills, one about military pay during a shutdown and one about congressional pay during a shutdown.  The Hill article states that the bill is no currently scheduled to to come to the House floor for a full vote this week.  That, in itself, is not an emergency – the next military payday is not until 15 April.

CNN also has a recent piece that talks about the possibility that military pay could be affected by a gap in federal funding.  There isn’t much new information in this article, but the concluding paragraph makes an interesting assertion:

The next pay date is April 15, when troops and civilians will at the very least be paid all the money they earned through April 8. After April 8, there would be no pay without a federal budget.

I honestly have no idea if this statement is true, and I don’t know where they came up with this concept.  It seems somewhat reasonable, but then it also seems a little ridiculous.  It is an interesting thought, though.  I promise I will report more if I come up with any new news.

As an aside, I had an interesting chat about this subject yesterday with one of the sailors who handles pay issues at our local Personnel Support Detachment (PSD).  She was joking about the possibility that the military would not get paid on the 15th, primarily because she was going to be on vacation.  She clearly did not know anything more than any of us.  I’m not sure if that is reassuring or concerning.   Just another tidbit to patch together the pieces of this puzzle.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • kittykat

    What a JOKE! I firmly believe this so called bill was just a ploy so ppl. thought that they support our troops, etc….it’s just another case of bait and switch. Seems both sides of the aisle like to play the schoolyard game of chicken…see who blinks first :/
    What a bunch of babies–pass the budget already, just like we all have to in our households! Oh, wait, they can sit and wait forever, b/c they sure as heck have THEIR pay secured, so no worries for them.

    Btw…not looking too optimistic:

  • Carla

    the committee people have said its unneccessary because A. military isn’t paid again tillt he 15th. b. they don’t think the governemnt will shutdown and if it shuts down won’t last very long. C. that the military will be backpaid.
    like all of that matters to families who depend on their checks. Spouses who don’t work won’t be able to work if their spouses are still deployed or still working long hours..its just going to be a huge mess. Obama just said he woudln’t pass anotehr stopgap and this stopgap would of funded the miltiary through the rest of the year and extending the deadline of a shutdown by one week.

    I hope none of them Obama included get reelected. Its time for a change America! Funny how we never had these issues under Bush.

  • carla

    i am hearing rumors that USAA will still deposit payroll they’ll just deduct the backpay once its received. I wonder if there is any truth in that?? I don’t know but if so i’m changing banks to USAA

    • Keri

      You should switch to USAA anyway, they’re fantastic. – Happy Customer

    • erin

      i heard that too. glad i have usaa :)

  • carla

    ok so i called Louie Gohmerts office and was told it passed. ? I just talked with someone at their 1866 number. ODD!

  • carla

    someone call them and see if they are told the same thing..18665356302 I asked her if that means the miltiary will be paid on time and she said yes ma’am.

  • Anny106172

    Kate, I called Rep Gohmer’s office this morning and asked when it would be voted on. The guy I spoke to said that they were still gathering cosponsors and that he was sure this would pass before Friday. I have no idea why they would be concerned about gathering cosponsors and I didn’t think to ask. I didn’t realize the House had an agenda for the week. =/

  • carla

    is it true usaa will deposit money into checking accounts and then just will take back pay?

  • carla

    oh and according to my rep Tom Cole the miltiary pay is not going to be affected at all.

  • kittykat

    Don’t really see how any bank would keep paying its customer’s paychecks w/o some sort of guidance as to how and where nd when the $$ will be coming from…plus, there re so many factors that go into the amt. of a military pay check–sounds to me like it would be a logistical and financial nightmare for a bank to pony up funds and disburse them before they get them from the originating source. Otherwise, the bank would lose lots of $$ upfront, doesn’t make financial sense.

    I am pretty sure military pay will be affected if this thing happens..spoke to another rep’s office, who fwd me some info that states that shutdown happens, after the 9th of apr., we would get paid for 1 week (for the week already worked– 1st apr to 8th apr), but if shutdown lasts longer, then no pay after tht until funding resumes.
    retiree pay is from a diff pot, so not much affected there for them…

    • carla

      well i i hope everyone remembers this come Nov 2012. I know i will be..everyoen currently in congress and the white house will NOT be getting my vote.

    • Kewl you should come up with that. Excenlelt!

  • christina

    in any way i am quite pissed the defense dept still has yet to say a word about pay. I think its a shame that they are choosing to keep mum on their pay nearly a week before they are too be paid.. Just let people know for sure what is goign to happen with the military pay.

  • carla

    i called Louie Gohmert’s office and was told that it now has 81 cosponsors and right now they are gathering them.
    He couldn’t tell me when it will pass but from what his office has been told it can be passed April 14th and the military will get their pay.

  • jaime

    kate there are 2 other bills similar to that of Congressman’s gohmerts.
    In fact here is a link to the press release about the senates version which is similar to the house’s.
    The other one is H.R 1262 or H.R 1263..one of those probably won’t go far because its the one about the week extension but the other is like H.R 1297. the senate’s version is S. 721.
    If you can dig up some info on these..it would be greatly appreciated.

    • KateKashman

      Thanks, Jaime. I saw a touch about them this morning but my internet was s-l-o-w and I couldn’t make any significant progress in my research.

      Let me see what I can hunt up. I wish I could just go to DC and track these folks down myself.

  • jaime

    sorry i forgot to include the link..let me grab it for you. http://hutchison.senate.gov/?p=press_release&… that is the link to the press release for the senate backed bill being put through there are two of them actually. S. 721 and S. 724.
    There is also H.R 1263 and H.R 1262 which one of those stands no chance cause it would of allowed a 1 week stopgap..not to mention H.R 1297 is still out there as well

  • jaime

    one of our reps back the senate version..i am going to call his office.

  • jaime

    the house is voting for a one week extension tomorrow that would fund the DOD for the rest of the year. (sept 30)
    Obama said he would approve it only if they are on their way to finalizing a long term budget.
    So the pressure is on..

  • Squidworth

    @kittycat: I agree. People are missing the forest for the trees. The Repubs are trying to say that the Dems and Obama don’t care about the military. What makes me even more disturbed is all the poor military schlobs that are jumping on the bandwagon without a single thought as to what the bill REALLY is.

    @KATE: Nice job leaving out anything at all about the riders in the bill that the Repubs are trying to push through concerning removing 12 billion from discretionary spending. They’re trying to paint this as OH THE HUMANITY, when really it’s them trying to push through their agenda.

    Then again, you didn’t bill yourself as unbiased, so “way to stay true?” I guess…

    • So what resolution have the democrats put forward to preserve military pay? Oh that’s right, not a single one!

      • Cassandra

        They haven’t! Obama hates the military. Remember when he wanted discharged military to pay for their own healthcare? Then when the public became outraged about it he said “Well I guess I underestimated the selfishness of some people”!

  • Cassandra

    Ummm the pay the military is a separate
    bill all by itself. It is not in with the budget. Dems won’t let it come to the floor. There is nothing about any buget cuts in this particular bill. It is only to get them to at least say they will guarantee military pay up to the end of the fiscal year which is in September. So don’t be whining saying Obama cant’t sign it!

  • stevenddeacon

    Congressman Jack Kingston’s (R-GA) website http://kingston.house.gov has a news press release entitled “KINGSTON CONTINUES WORK TO SHIELD TROOPS, AVERT SHUTDOWN” and is working on a resolution “Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act of 2011,” (HR 1297). Congressman Jack Kingston may be a strong supporter of military pay but he exhibits an interest in many cost cutting programs. Narrow scope leaves a job part done. Our military needs more than access to their more than well deserved wages

    Our Country is at War!

    See my Blog at http://stevenddeacon.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/uni