So the government shut down for a few days. Democrats refused to vote to keep paying the bills unless immigration reform for illegal aliens brought here as children was immediately addressed, and Republicans refused.
While the shutdown only lasted three days, with a continuing resolution finally passed on Monday to fund the government through Feb. 8, I have a serious problem with a shutdown in the first place.
Our troops were not going to get paid. Same with our civilian employees. In fact, many were told not to show up to work on Monday.
Quite frankly, I don’t care who was responsible. You can blame Democrats, Republicans or the president all you want, but guess what? All of the members of Congress were going to continue to get paid, no matter if the shutdown lasted for months.
How do you tell a young sergeant or specialist who is currently over in Afghanistan or Korea, who may have a spouse and small children at home, that they may not see a paycheck on the first of the month, and possibly not see one for an untold period of time?
In this case, it seems to me the message was “suck it up, buttercup.”
How do you really expect that soldier to focus on his or her job — which in some cases means trying to stay alive in the first place — while worrying whether their spouse will have the means to pay the rent and utilities?
You can’t. No matter how many times you tell that soldier things will turn out OK — that Army Emergency Relief will be able to help out, they’ll get paid eventually — that soldier will still be talking to their stressed-out spouse who doesn’t know what the next day will bring.
That kind of uncertainty is something we should never force our troops to face. There is no political issue, whether immigration or health care, that should take priority over the well-being of the men and women who volunteered to keep the rest of the nation safe and their families.
At least one congressman — Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, whose district includes Fort Hood — requested his pay be withheld as well until the soldiers he represents were paid, something you don’t see happen very often.
Perhaps it’s time we linked the pay of members of Congress to those service members affected by this kind of shutdown. I’m sure they would be more willing to work with each other to pass a budget if their own paycheck was at stake.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and a military journalist for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7554.