McCollum Remarks at Press Conference on Pay Our Military Act
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) spoke on Jan. 22, 2018 at a press conference with House Democrats about her legislation, the Pay Our Military Act, that ensures our servicewomen and men are paid during a government shutdown. The full text of Congresswoman McCollum's remarks is below:
Thamk you. I am an appropriator and I serve on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. I hear directly from our military leaders on a regular basis about the damaging effects that operating under short-term continuing resolutions have on our military.
The reason we are in this shutdown is because Republicans in Congress and President Trump have not worked in good faith on a long-term budget agreement for our national security and our domestic priorities. They wasted an entire year on their disastrous Trumpcare that took away health care from millions of Americans and on their tax scam giveaways to billionaires. That was the Republican priority, not funding our government.
Now, as President Trump himself has acknowledged, our active duty military will be among the millions of federal employees working without pay.
I grew up in a military family – and I understand the sacrifices that our service members and their families make, while they are deployed and after they come home. It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican, we can all agree that it is wrong to ask our women and men in uniform to put their lives on the line without pay.
That’s why I introduced the Pay Our Military Act of 2018.
This bill provides both pay and death benefits for our service members during this government shutdown. It includes pay and support for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
And, should one of our servicewomen or men make the ultimate sacrifice during the shutdown, this bill ensures that their family will be taken care of promptly by our country. That is the least we can do.
It’s also what we’ve done in the past. In 2013, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass similar legislation unanimously.
Unfortunately, when I offered a motion to bring up this bill on Saturday, Republicans defeated it on a party-line vote. In the Senate, Leader McConnell prevented Senator McCaskill from offering the same bill.
Today we are entering the first weekday of the Trump Shutdown. We are beginning to feel the real effects that this Republican-inflicted shutdown will have on the American people.
It is time for President Trump and the Republicans to stop the political games, end the chaos, and work in good faith across the aisle on an agreement that provides long-term budget certainty and addresses our urgent priorities. I hope that Republicans will do that.
But even if they won’t, they should at least work with us now to ensure that our women and men in uniform, active duty, reservists and the National Guard, are not punished for their failure to govern responsibly.
Let’s pay our troops, get an agreed upon top line budget number, reopen the government, and get our work done!