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Boehner Column: Obama Administration Should Do Right By Wright-Patt Civilian Employees


Oct 4, 2013

Washington
- Today, Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) released the following column discussing the administration’s decision to disregard the Pay Our Military Act and furlough civilian employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base:

“This week, I received thousands of messages from Eighth District residents about the government shutdown. Overwhelmingly, people expressed that they don't want a shutdown and they don't want the president's health care law. Neither do I.

“We need President Obama and Democratic leaders to engage in bipartisan negotiations on a common-sense way forward. Right now, as a result of their refusal to sit down and talk, roughly 800,000 American workers face temporary furloughs.

“As it turns out, that same number – 800,000 – is the amount of jobs that, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, will be permanently destroyed under the president’s health care law. It’s time for Washington to get back to work, so these workers can get back to work.

“That includes the nearly 9,000 civilian employees who were furloughed from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. I understand the strain this places on them and their families, and of course, our national security.

“That’s why the House recently passed H.R. 3210, the Pay Our Military Act, authored by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO). The bill does exactly what its title says: it ensures America’s troops, reservists, and the civilian workers who support them will be paid in the event of a government shutdown.

“The good news is Congress passed this measure with unanimous support and President Obama quickly signed it into law. The bad news is the Department of Defense’s guidance on this matter is behind current law, meaning civilian workers who should be working are currently at home.

“It's important to understand that the administration is doing this against our bipartisan intent, which is to take care of as many civilian workers as possible.

“To press our case, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, urging him to get civilian workers back on the job. ‘With the enactment of this law,’ he wrote, ‘active duty uniformed personnel can continue to be paid for their service and most civilian defense workers should remain on the job.’

“Chairman McKeon will hold a public hearing on this issue in the coming days. We’re also working on a bill that makes sure civilians who do have to stay home will receive retroactive pay.

“In addition, Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) has written directly to the president, stating: ‘The hardworking civilians at Wright-Patterson are a critical national security asset. Using our defense civilian employees as political bargaining chips is unacceptable and is in direct violation of the United States Constitution.’

“We have yet to receive a response to these inquiries. Perhaps we shouldn’t expect one.

“After all, the president has threatened to veto just about every measure the House has passed to keep critical parts of the government running, including life-saving cancer research, services for veterans, pay for the National Guard, disaster relief funding, and reopening our national parks and museums. It’s a scorched-earth strategy, aimed at inflicting as much pain as possible on the American people until the president gets 100 percent of what he demands.

“Just take a look at Friday’s Wall Street Journal, in which a senior White House official was quoted as saying ‘we are winning...it doesn't really matter to us’ how long the shutdown lasts.

“Well, this isn’t a game. It may not matter to the White House how long this shutdown lasts, but it certainly matters to the American people. At times like this, they expect their leaders to come together and resolve their differences, but the president refuses to negotiate. As commander-in-chief, he owes it to the tens of thousands of defense workers across the nation not to jeopardize their paychecks with his political stunts. I hope he and his administration will do the right thing, and soon.”

 

Boehner represents Ohio’s 8th District, which includes all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami, and Preble counties, and the southernmost part of Mercer County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.

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