Washington— U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, reiterated her call Friday for members of the National Guard to receive payment during the federal government shutdown.
Congress passed legislation earlier to pay members of the military for their service during the government shutdown, and President Barack Obama signed it into law Monday. Miller says the intent of law was to include activated National Guardsmen and reservists.
“Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel interpreted it differently,” Miller said Friday. “ I believe along with many others that he has improperly furloughed the National Guard employees. That was certainly not the intent of the act that we passed. For them to be furloughed — I quite frankly was stunned when he did that after we passed that bill.”
On Monday, the Michigan National Guard said about 900 military technicians were at risk of furlough under the shutdown caused by the failure of Congress to pass a budget before appropriations ran out Tuesday.
The bill approved Sunday by the U.S. House of Representatives, called the Pay Our Military Act, and later signed into law by the president allowed for the continuation of pay for active duty military members but did not apply to military technicians or National Guard members in reserve status, according to Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard.
But Miller and other members of Congress argued in a letter to Hagel Thursday to use the “broad discretion” afforded to him under the legislation to ensure full-time National Guard members remain on the job and paid to maintain a level of military readiness.
Of the 900 members furloughed in Michigan, about 650 civilians and military technicians are based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County.
“The brave men and women who serve at Selfridge deserve better,” Miller said.
To ensure payment, the U.S. House passed legislation late this week to fund the National Guard. But Senate Democrats and the White House have rejected the GOP’s piecemeal approach and have called for the passage of legislation that would reopen all of government.
A spokesman for the Department of Defense said the department is determining whether the law could potentially include members of the National Guard.
“The Department of Defense is currently reviewing the act to determine if it offers any additional flexibility,” said Bill Urban, defense press officer.