Ninety Republicans Vote to Force US Soldiers To Work Without Pay or Benefits
At Valley Forge, George Washington famously refused to move from his frozen tent into a cabin until all his men had been housed.
That example of patriotism and leadership stands in stark contrast to the action of ninety House Republicans, including Speaker Mike Johnson, who voted to block pay and childcare for our military as soldiers were still required to report for duty.
Congress' Constitutional Responsibility to Fund the Government
Congress’ Constitutional responsibility is to set budgets and pass bills to fund our government.
But over ninety House Republicans, including Speaker Mike Johnson (and with the backing of Donald Trump), voted to shut down the government, despite the fact that doing so would have put a freeze on military and boarder patrol paychecks, closed military childcare centers, but forced Americans who serve in the military to continue to report for duty.
Unlike past government shutdowns, there was bipartisan support this year from the majority of Senators and Congresspeople to do their duty. In the end, Democrats in the House provided Republican Speaker McCarthy the majority of the votes he needed to pass a bill, which was then approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate to keep the government running.
The Stakes: Our Military Must Work Without Pay or Benefits
Because our military performs a necessary function of protecting our nation, they are required to report for duty whether they are paid or not.
If Donald Trump and House Republicans had gotten their way and shut down the federal government, our military would have gone unpaid, supplemental food programs that 1-in-4 active duty families depend on would have ended, and many military childcare facilities would have closed.
For our men and women in uniform, this failure of Congress would have created a perfect storm where military parents already living paycheck-to-paycheck would have lost their pay and care for their children, but military parents would have still be required to report for duty.
Border patrol agents, TSA personnel, members of our intelligence community, and civil servants providing essential services to the American people that require them to work without pay during government shutdowns would have all faced similar fates. And checks for Social Security that elderly Americans invested in all their lives would have been stopped.
McCarthy Turned To Democrats to Keep Government Running
In a surprise to many, McCarthy ultimately turned to Democrats in the House, asking them take the lead in voting to ensure that America's Armed Forces continued to be paid and base childcare facilities remained open. In the end, more House Democrats voted to keep the government running than House Republicans.
The House bill was quickly approved by a large bipartisan majority in the Senate and signed by President Biden hours before the shutdown deadline.
A total of 90 House Republicans, including Speaker Mike Johnson, and 9 Republican Senators voted to stop paying our military. Every Senate Democrat and all but one House Democrat voted to keep the government running.
The bill extended the deadline for Congress to agree on a budget and spending plan for 45 days, meaning soldiers could again face a pay and childcare freeze if Republicans in the House cannot come to an agreement on how to fund the government.
House Republicans Fire Their Speaker.
As a punishment for Speaker McCarthy's willingness to work with Democrats to ensure our military kept getting paid, a minority of his fellow Republicans voted to remove him as Speaker. With a slim majority in the House, McCarthy required the support of nearly all of his Caucus to remain in power.
After McCarthy became the first Speaker of the House to be forced out in a floor vote by his own party, the House ceased to be able to function for the first time in its history as Republicans argued for 3 weeks over who their next Speaker would be.
Rep. Scalise was chosen in a secret Republican ballot as the next Republican nominee, but he withdrew after failing to receive enough votes. Rep. Jim Jordan from Ohio, who is Donald Trump's pick for Speaker, was the next candidate picked by Republicans. But he also fell well short of securing the votes needed, with a number of Republicans blaming him and the Freedom Caucus for the fall of McCarthy and votes against military and Ukraine.
Facing a new deadline when military pay would be frozen right before Christmas, Ukraine funding running out, and the terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas, House Republicans finally settled on Speaker Mike Johnson from Louisiana.
Speaker Johnson was one of the legal architects behind President Trump's failed effort to overturn the 2020 election. Veteran and military groups have raised alarm over Johnson's vote to block medical treatment for veterans suffering the health impacts of burn pit exposure from their service during the Iraq War, and his recent vote to freeze military pay.
With our allies in Ukraine and Israel in dire need of support, and another deadline looming when military pay will be frozen, hopefully our elected leaders will remember the example set by George Washington. They will not abandon our troops or allies. They will put the American people first. And they will seek a bipartisan solution that allows our government to work for The People.