RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With the U.S. barreling toward a possible government shutdown, millions of federal employees could be forced to work without a paycheck, including members of the armed forces.
“People are telling us how it has the potential to impact them, like a shutdown could cause more strain on buying food,” said Jessica Strong, Senior Director of Applied Research at Blue Star Families — an organization with the goal of connecting military families for support.
“Some said that if there was no pay, we would be homeless. We already live paycheck to paycheck. If we lost our pay, we would drown in bills,” Strong said.
If a government shutdown were to happen, service members would not receive their paychecks until after the shutdown is over.
“Military families are feeling that a government shutdown and a lack of pay during a government shutdown is demonstrative of a lack of commitment to military families and really question whether they want to continue to serve or recommend military service to others,” Strong said.
To prevent that, Virginia Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (R-02) has introduced the ‘Pay our Troops Act,’ which would ensure that members of the U.S. Armed Forces are paid as well as certain civilian employees.
In a statement, Kiggins said, “I will not allow the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our country go without pay. Our servicemembers shouldn’t suffer because of Washington’s dysfunction.”
During previous shutdowns, most service members were paid because of similar legislation, or because Congress approved a defense budget.
However, from 2018 to 2019, about 42,000 members of the Coast Guard went without pay during a 34-day shutdown, which occurred because the Coast Guard is the only branch of the military that is under the Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense.
Kiggins’ bill would ensure members of the Coast Guard are paid like the rest of their military counterparts.
So far, no vote on Kiggins’ bill has been scheduled.