"We urge you to review the policies that the services are disseminating to their commands to ensure that the spirit of the 'Pay Our Military Act' is upheld and that guidance is standard across the services," the Senators wrote. "Congress has given you the authority to maintain our national security without interruption. We strongly believe that all service members, and the civilians that support them, should receive equitable and fair treatment under this law."
The “Pay Our Military Act” was signed into law before the government shut down to make sure all military personnel receive pay. However, there have been reports that many service members, especially in the National Guard and Reserves, have been furloughed without compensation. The Obama Administration's and its Department of Defense's interpretation of the Act impacts Illinois National Guardsmen, Reservists and DoD civilians across Illinois who are on now furlough.
In addition to Senator Kirk, the following Senators sent the letter to Secretary Hagel.
Joe Manchin III, Jerry Moran, Mark Udall, Kelly Ayotte, Mark Pryor, John Hoeven, John D. Rockefeller IV, Pat Roberts, Jeanne Shaheen, Richard Blumenthal, Michael Bennet, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein, Susan M. Collins, Saxby Chambliss, Debbie Stabenow, Tom Udall, John Boozman, Johnny Isakson, Joe Donnelly, Mazie K. Hirono, Mark Begich, Barbara Boxer, Robert Menendez, Chris Coons, Ron Wyden, Heidi Heitkamp, Benjamin L. Cardin, Mary Landrieu, Bill Nelson, Angus S. King, Tim Johnson, Amy Klobuchar, Bernard Sanders, Roy Blunt, Jon Tester, Martin Heinrich, Max Baucus, Charles E. Grassley, Al Franken, Pat Toomey, Richard Burr, Dan Coats, Chris Murphy, Jeff Sessions, James Inhofe, Kay Hagan, Dean Heller and Roger Wicker.
The full letter can be found below: Dear Secretary Hagel,
One of the issues that this divided Congress can agree on is ensuring that our troops who serve in harm’s way, and those that support them, receive the pay and benefits that they have earned. That is why Congress unanimously passed the “Pay Our Military Act” and the President quickly signed the bill into law.
The “Pay Our Military Act” gives the Department of Defense broad latitude to pay service members and civilians. The bill does not limit the provision of pay to civilians or certain service members who were previously categorized by the Administration as 'excepted' or 'essential' during sequestration furloughs. The law that we recently passed is explicitly clear: all members of the Armed Forces, including Reserve component personnel serving in an active status, will be paid in the event of a government shutdown. Further, the bill requires that civilian Department of Defense personnel “providing support to members of the Armed Forces” continue to receive their pay and allowances.
Unfortunately, we are receiving disturbing and conflicting reports from constituents and military personnel that uniformed service members and civilians who are directly supporting troops, including those in combat, are being furloughed. It is our understanding that under the current Department of Defense guidance, our National Guard and Reserves are seeing disruptions for personnel, to include:
- Traditional members of the Guard or Reserve who attend drill and annual training, including those who are performing domestic disaster relief and recovery operations; and
- Dual-status technicians, who are uniformed service members, and also non-dual status technicians; and
- Active Guard Reserve (AGR) personnel; and
- Personnel on short-term, mission-essential, active duty tours (commonly known as ADOS); and
- Federally reimbursed state civilians, such as firefighters, air traffic controllers and other civilians in direct support of military operations.