Why isn't the White House paying the military during this shutdown if they were paid in 1995? Update: Explained

Via Ace, Big Government’s Mike Flynn asks a very good question.

During the 1995 shutdown, the Clinton Administration followed the OMB guidance issued during the Reagan Administration. The Obama Administration, it seems, is tacking a different direction.

Let me be clear, the guidelines proposing to hold military paychecks are, according to the news reports, draft guidelines. It is possible the Obama Administration has abandoned these punitive guidelines. And, even if they implemented these guidelines, military personnel would most likely eventually receive their pay, once a budget agreement is reached. But, why even change the policy and subject our military to partisan political battles. The policy is certainly a change, but it doesn’t provide much hope.

Hopefully, they will clear this up quickly.

Read this CNN story or Air Force Times piece from last month for further background. If The One can continue payments to the military without having to agree to Boehner’s new short-term budget resolution, then why doesn’t he do it? Unless … he wants a shutdown to happen because it’ll hurt Republicans, and thinks that deliberately withholding military pay will make it that much more painful for Republicans politically when the shutdown comes. Is there any other explanation for this? There may have been some sort of legislation passed since 1995 tying the White House’s hands but I don’t see it mentioned in the CNN piece or the Federal Times story linked by Flynn and can’t find anything via Google.

Speaking of Boehner’s resolution, it passed this afternoon 247-181. Fifteen Democrats voted yes and six Republicans voted no: Amash, Bachmann, Barton, Steve King, Mulvaney, and of course Ron Paul. That’s all that’s left of the 54 Republicans who voted no on Boehner’s last short-term budget because they were tired of messing around with two-week funding measures. Amazing what high-stakes negotiations can do for party unity. Below you’ll find video of Boehner and Reid after this afternoon’s failed meeting at the White House. They’re headed back there tonight for another go at 7 p.m., with Boehner now asking for cuts in the neighborhood of $39 billion and Democrats offering a package in the ballpark of $34-35 billion. A major caveat, though:

In the case of the policy riders, Democrats said they have agreed to a number of the lesser Republican amendments. But there has been little give on the half-dozen highest priority items— impacting healthcare reform, family planning programs and the Federal Communications Commission’s “net-neutrality” rulemaking, for example. And Reid told Boehner that Republicans hurt their own cause this week by pushing for what proved to be a series of unsuccessful votes this week on the question of limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to address global warming and greenhouse gases…

When asked if there were riders Boehner would shut the government over, he said “We’re going to continue to work our way through all of this and there’s no reason to draw any lines in the sand to make this more difficult than it already is.”

A fun fact about the GOP’s abortion rider to Boehner’s short-term budget, which appears to be the dealbreaker for Dingy and the rest of the gang: It hasn’t been a dealbreaker for liberals in the past. From John McCormack:

This policy, known as the Dornan amendment, has previously enjoyed bipartisan support: Indeed, Reid, Biden, Pelosi, and Obama have all voted for appropriations bills that included the Dornan amendment. President Obama signed the Dornan amendment into law in the fiscal year 2009 budget. It was only removed in the summer of 2009 by House Democrats–and even then 39 Democratic members of Congress took the extraordinary step of joining House Republicans to try to take down the rule on an appropriations bill in order to keep the Dornan amendment. It’s quite amazing that Harry Reid and President Obama are now insisting that taxpayer-funding of abortion is more important than a bill that funds the troops for a year and keeps budget negotiations going for another week.

Is it amazing? Democrats are also pretending tonight that it’s somehow outre to attach policy riders to budget bills at all, even though they’ve done it themselves many times in the past.

Another budget update coming later, after tonight’s meeting. 30 hours from a shutdown…

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Update: Aha, there is indeed an explanation for this. Military pay in 1995 wasn’t as simple as Clinton releasing the funds. There was a defense appropriations bill in effect during that shutdown. Via Gabe Malor, a report from the Congressional Research Service:

A frequent question is how this compares to the last government shutdown in 1995-1996. There were two shutdowns at that time, one of five days, from November 13 through November 19, 1995, and one of 21 days, from December 15, 1995 through January 5, 1996. The first shutdown was not long enough to affect pay checks, and DOD was not affected by the second because defense appropriations were enacted on December 1, so funding was available.

So it’s not The One’s fault that the military isn’t getting paid. (Well, it is insofar as he and Reid refuse to agree to Boehner’s new resolution, but it’s not solely his fault.) It’s actually … Reid’s and Pelosi’s fault for not passing a 2011 budget last year when they had a chance. The record stands corrected!

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Jazz Shaw 12:01 PM on November 30, 2022