Two House bills backed by Republicans would keep military paychecks flowing and provide pay to any federal civilian employees given furloughs during a government shutdown.
The legislation could blunt disruption for the Defense Department and personnel stationed around the world if Congress cannot work out a budget agreement by Friday at midnight.
The troop paycheck bill was filed Tuesday by Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., and protects active-duty service members who would have to show up for work during a partial shutdown but not get paid until the government is funded again.
Reps. Rob Wittman, R-Va., and Don Beyer, D-Va., unveiled a bill Thursday that guarantees back pay to federal workers including any of the 800,000 civilians at the Defense Department who are sent home.
"Federal employees should not be penalized for Congress’ inability to get its job done on time," said Wittman, who is a House Armed Services subcommittee chairman. "This legislation sends a clear signal to our federal workers that they will not be harmed in the unfortunate event of a shutdown.”
Congress passed similar legislation before a 16-day government shutdown in 2013 over Obamacare. Hundreds of thousands of defense civilians were initially sent home but then called back to work by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The House appeared on track to pass a stopgap continuing resolution bill Thursday night, but Senate Democrats said they had enough votes to block the legislation in the upper chamber, raising the possibility that the current budget will expire without a replacement.
President Trump visited the Pentagon on Thursday and warned that a shutdown would be particularly harmful to the military.
“If for any reason it shuts down, the worst thing is what happens to our military,” Trump said.
The Pentagon has warned that a shutdown would also have other negative effects such as delaying maintenance work on weapons systems, sending contractors home, and holding up gratuity payments to families of troops who are killed in the line of duty.