Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is known as a longtime champion of military members and their families. During the recently resolved showdown on the 2011 budget in Washington, she provided leadership once again to ensure that military pay was not sacrificed. Should a shutdown have occurred, the Republican senator looked for support on a plan to keep paychecks going out to our military.
From her website:
U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) led a group of 79 Senators urging Congress to continue pay for the military before a possible government shutdown in less than 24 hours. The bipartisan effort, led by Sen. Hutchison would simply make sure that our troops and their families would not see an interruption in their pay if there is a funding gap as a result of the shutdown.
Social Media Campaign With Over 1 Million Supporters
In a matter of hours, over 1 million supporters of the military have rallied together to form a Facebook campaign supporting Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act (S.724).
While the Democrat leadership concerned themselves with the bill riders about funding Planned Parenthood and the like, Hutchison rose above petty political discourse and worked for easing the stress on military families.
"I am not willing to place the well-being of our military personnel and their families in the balance as we await a budget agreement. Our troops are serving our country, and our country must continue to serve them. This legislation would ensure the military gets paid on time, even if Congress cannot pass a budget before the April 8 deadline."
The Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act of 2011 would make available the necessary funds to prevent an interruption in pay for members of the military if there is a funding gap resulting from a government shutdown. Additionally, a provision is included to give the Secretary of Defense the discretion to allow those who serve as DOD civilians or contractors in support of our men and women in uniform to continue to be paid as well.
Congress did not pass a single appropriations bill last year, including one to fund the Department of Defense, so any government shutdown would affect our military personnel, many of whom are deployed. There are currently 90,000 troops in Afghanistan and more than 45,000 in Iraq.
The Defense Department has yet to establish concrete guidelines as to how a possible shutdown would affect service members' pay, but a draft planning memo did mention that all military personnel would be required to show up to work, regardless of whether they would be paid during the shutdown.
While cable networks were exploiting the concerns of military families in light of a potential government shutdown, while President Obama could have stepped forward and reassured that military paychecks would remain on schedule, while First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden (who tout their support of military families) remained mute, Senator Hutchison filled the void allowed by Democratic leadership.
That is what political leadership looks like.