Dear American Legion Family members and friends,
Once again Congress has driven the nation to the precipice. With a government shutdown closing in, our servicemembers face the prospect of not being paid even as they protect us around the globe.
Unlike the 35-day shutdown that ended in January 2019, no legislation has been passed ensuring that soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, cadets and guardians are protected during a likely shutdown. That is because members of Congress have chosen quibbling and posturing over collaborating and passing the National Defense Authorization Act, which funds the Department of Defense (DoD).
During the previous shutdown as Congress sat idle, only the Coast Guard was not paid because they are funded through Homeland Security. So The American Legion went to work. Legionnaires rallied to provide more than $1 million in Temporary Financial Assistance grants to Coast Guard families in need.
Almost five years later, we find ourselves in a similar grim scenario. This time, each branch of our armed services will require assistance if Congress does not act.
To resolve this, Congress must pass H.R. 5641, the Pay Our Troops Act of 2023. This legislation would take unappropriated Treasury funds and pay our uniformed military as well as civilian support staff in the event of a government shutdown on Oct 1. Sign up for our Grassroots Action Center so you can easily contact your representative and encourage them to support this critical legislation.
Without government funding, servicemembers would still continue to serve this great nation. The Pentagon would be able to continue to fund most projects and place orders to ensure national security. Other federal operations related to law enforcement and national security also would continue.
However, this dereliction of duty by Congress will reverberate throughout our military community.
Military families would face compounded challenges in providing food, shelter and other necessities for their children.
Roughly 800,000 civilian employees at DoD would be furloughed.
In the event of a major national disaster, most employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency would remain on the job. But National Guard troops, already stretched thin, may be called upon for their response.
It’s time for partisan politics to end. It’s time to forge an agreement for the sake of our nation. It’s time to ensure every military member is paid during a shutdown.
Daniel J. Seehafer