Fitzpatrick aims to ensure military, law enforcement get paid during federal budget impasses

RIPON ADVANCE NEWS SERVICE

Against the backdrop of America’s longest partial-government shutdown, a new bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) would ensure members of the U.S. Armed Forces and federal law enforcement officers receive their paychecks regardless of what’s happening with the United States government’s budget.

Rep. Fitzpatrick on Jan. 11 introduced the Strengthening Homeland Security, Intelligence, and Essential Law Enforcement Departments (SHIELD) Act, H.R. 489, with original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA).

“I’m proud to support the SHIELD Act and stand in solidarity with those who keep us safe, and I urge House leadership to immediately consider its passage,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said earlier this month.

Specifically, H.R. 489 would authorize the U.S. Treasury Department to apportion pay and allowances for military service members and federal law enforcement personnel if there is an interruption in congressionally appropriated funds; if there’s a government shutdown; or if the government’s debt ceiling is reached, according to a summary provided by the congressman’s office.

“Each and every day, our nation’s military and federal law enforcement officials sacrifice for our safety,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “Even with their paychecks threatened due to the current government shutdown, members of the U.S. Coast Guard and critical law enforcement continue to honorably report to work. These federal employees are essential to American national security, and their lack of timely compensation is unacceptable.”

Rep. Spanberger, a former federal law enforcement agent, agreed that “it’s simply unacceptable” for thousands of law enforcement officers to not receive salaries during any type of federal government shutdown.

“I’m proud to stand alongside Congressman Fitzpatrick to introduce this bipartisan bill,” she said. “Our national security and the safety of American families should never be put at risk due to our government’s inability to responsibly manage its finances, and those who put their lives on the line in the service of their fellow citizens should not be denied their paychecks.”

H.R. 489 received endorsement from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), which says nearly all of its more than 27,000 members are experiencing the financial and operational challenges associated with the current partial-government shutdown.

“By prioritizing funding to ensure our safety and security, the SHIELD Act recognizes that we can never shut down our core national defense, homeland security and law enforcement functions,” said Nate Catura, president of the FLEOA.

The FLEOA also supported the SHIELD Act of 2017, H.R. 1536, which Rep. Fitzpatrick sponsored during the 115th Congress. The bipartisan measure garnered 37 cosponsors, and was considered by several House subcommittees during 2017.

This month’s reintroduced H.R. 489 has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

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