September 21, 2023

Rep. Sykes Introduces Legislation To Pay Our Servicemembers, Ensure No Family Goes Hungry In The Case Of A Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Emilia Sykes (OH-13) introduced two pieces of legislation to support Americans and provide stability in the case of a government shutdown. The bipartisan Pay Our Military Act would ensure pay continues to our servicemen and women during a government shutdown, while the Feed Our Families Act would ensure families who rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can continue to access their benefits up to three months after a shutdown occurs.

“Shutting the government down isn’t a game— it would have real, devastating consequences for Americans across the country, including people in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District. Constituents are calling my office every day worried about how they will continue to pay their bills, access healthcare, or put food on the table if the government shuts down. I won’t let my constituents become victims of partisan infighting. That’s why I introduced two bills, the Pay Our Military Act and the Feed Our Families Act, which put people over politics to protect Americans’ livelihoods in the event of an extremist-manufactured shutdown,” said Rep. Sykes.

If Congress fails to enact appropriations for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2024 by September 30, our servicemembers would be forced to serve without pay. Making this situation more egregious is the fact that servicemembers are due to receive their pay on October 13 of this coming month, which leaves Congress only two business weeks – a shorter time than normal – to resolve any potential lapse in appropriations before those servicemembers miss a paycheck. The Pay Our Military Act would provide appropriations for pay and support for all members of the Armed Forces, civilian personnel at the Department of Defense, members of the Coast Guard, necessary contractors, and reservists during a government shutdown.

“The men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line for us every day should never have to worry about going without a paycheck. The Pay Our Military Act will ensure our military can continue to serve our country and keep Americans safe if a government shutdown occurs,” said Rep. Sykes.

“A federal shutdown would create dangerous – and completely unnecessary – risks to national security. Even worse, a lapse in pay would hurt military servicemembers and families who already pay too high a price for their selfless service to our nation.  The Pay Our Military Act keeps faith with those who give so much to defend us,” said Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02), co-lead of the Pay Our Military Act.

40,461 veterans live in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, and 6,281 active-duty military members reside in Ohio.

Additionally, the Feed Our Families Act would prevent a catastrophic funding cliff that will imperil the more than 40 million Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Because SNAP requires an annual appropriation made by Congress, millions of Americans are made vulnerable every time that Congress cannot fulfill its most basic duty – to fund the government. During the 2018-2019 shutdown, the Trump Administration was forced to exercise budgetary workarounds to ensure that SNAP recipients had access to their benefits. Now, in 2023, USDA has noted that it has sufficient funding to maintain SNAP benefits for the month of October 2023, but that it does not have sufficient balance in its reserve fund to maintain SNAP benefits beyond that month.

The Feed Our Families Act would appropriate three months of funding into the SNAP reserve fund. USDA would be able to carry over that funding, reducing the outlays necessary to maintain SNAP benefits in subsequent appropriations bills.

“No American should ever go hungry because of Congress’ failure to fund SNAP,” said Rep. Sykes. “The Feed Our Families Act will ensure millions of Americans, including thousands of constituents in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District who rely on SNAP, will still be able to put food on their tables in the event of a government shutdown.”

“We cannot play politics with people’s food,” said Rep. Shontel Brown (OH-11), co-lead of the Feed Our Families Act. “Almost one in every four of people in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District relies on SNAP. An extended shutdown putting their benefits at risk, and increasing hunger for working families, children and the elderly is unacceptable.  I am proud to co-lead this critical legislation with Congresswoman Sykes and will continue to urge the Speaker and his party to avoid a shutdown and fund the government.”

47,926 households in Ohio’s 13th Congressional District rely on SNAP benefits.

Rep. Sykes also reiterated her calls for House Republicans to work towards a bipartisan solution to keep the government operational ahead of the looming fiscal year deadline.

“We can very easily prevent a shutdown by upholding the promises agreed to when Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Agreement back in June. But I won’t let Americans live in uncertainty as we rapidly approach the September 30 fiscal deadline. It’s time to put the antics aside and put the American people over partisan politics,” added Rep. Sykes.