Troops' paychecks would continue uninterrupted even if the government shuts down later this week under a measure introduced in the House on Tuesday.
The "Pay Our Military Act," introduced by Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., would require military pay to continue into the fall even if Congress fails to pass a budget extension to keep other government programs running.
The legislation also would ensure that paychecks of essential civilian defense personnel and contractors would continue, as well as the pay of National Guard troops activated under an emergency declaration.
"Our soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines cannot go on furlough, so it is inexcusable for them to go without pay in the event of a government shutdown," Coffman said in a statement. "Paying our military should not be a casualty of left or right squabbling."
The legislation echoes a bill passed by Congress just before the government shutdown in October 2013, when lawmakers realized that troops serving in war zones and critical support roles would be required to work without pay because of the political stalemate.
Most members of Congress expect to avoid a similar shutdown this week, but Coffman's legislation would give them a safety valve for military paycheck relief if a last-minute political snag surfaces.
Coffman's bill would provide only temporary relief in the event of a shutdown this year, not a permanent exemption for troops' paychecks from the political budget battles. Several lawmakers have floated legislation that would permanently protect military pay from shutdown threats, but those proposals have failed to gain traction in the deeply divided Congress.
Coffman said the temporary fix would allow troops to "focus on protecting us and our nation and not on whether they can keep food on the table and the lights on at home."
Both the House and Senate have until midnight Wednesday, the end of the fiscal year, to pass a continuing resolution to extend fiscal 2015 spending levels into December. Otherwise, federal agencies, including the Defense Department, will begin furloughs and program pauses on Thursday morning.