Two Houston Lawmakers Differ on the Funding of Military Payroll

Payroll accounts the U.S. military uses to pay soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are empty according to one Houston lawmaker. He blames Congress for not acting to fund the military. Another area lawmaker says it’s not that way at all. Pat Hernandez sorts it all out.

Woodlands Republican Congressman Kevin Brady says there is no more money for the payroll of the Army and Marines, including soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Secretary Gates says he will rob from the payroll of the Navy and the Air Force to keep it going. But the bottom line is, Congress has had a request for funding for more than a year now for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. This Congress has fiddled around, and has not focused on supporting our troops so, I am hopeful that this week, we will finally get a funding bill where our troops can get not just the payroll and their paychecks, but they can get all the support they need so they can complete their mission and come home safe to us soon.”

But Democratic Congressman Green who represents north and east Houston says the Pentagon has asked for an emergency appropriation that would fund payroll through the middle of next month.

“This is a game of ‘chicken’ that’s being played and it shouldn’t be using military personnel between the White House and Congress. The House has passed a supplemental that would provide money for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with other things including a new G.I. Bill of Rights for veterans, but also some domestic issues…expanding unemployment…things like that. So, this is a game of ‘chicken’ and I don’t think either the White House or Congress should do it, so they ought to sit down and work it out.”

Green says the President has received supplementals for Iraq and Afghanistan for many years that didn’t include domestic issues…until now.

“I would hope that the White House would compromise with Congress, instead of just telling us no for years it’s ‘our way or the highway’, and Congress is an equal branch of government, and we also have priorities like the president does.”

Like extending unemployment benefits for people who’ve exhausted theirs. Green says Congress must not overlook other pressing issues like reversing the economic downturn that he says will no doubt affect veterans returning from the war.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.