MSNBC's Brewer Denounces GOP Bill to Fund Military Paychecks

As the prospect of a government shutdown continued to make headlines today, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer accused Republicans of exploiting servicemen's paychecks for political gain, even though the House approved legislation to fund the Pentagon in the event of a shutdown and President Barack Obama threatened to veto such a measure should it reach his desk.

Interviewing Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), the daytime anchor spun the debate over the 2011 budget as a false choice between paying the troops or defunding Planned Parenthood.

“How frustrated are you that members of the House, your colleagues – maybe across the aisle but colleagues nevertheless – are willing to see our military people forgo paychecks because they want to see the EPA hurt or they want to see Planned Parenthood hurt?” screeched an indignant Brewer.

Sanchez responded, “Again, it’s unconscionable to me that they’re using these families – real families with real needs – as pawns for this ideological end game.”

Moments after Sanchez agreed that Republicans are using military families as “pawns” in a political chessboard, Brewer wondered aloud how Obama might turn the issue of military pay to his advantage: “I’m reading between the lines here from the administration and thinking the reason the President doesn’t want to see this go through is because he doesn’t want to give Republicans breathing room to say ‘well we at least funded the troops.’”

This afternoon, House Republicans passed another stopgap bill to provide funding for military salaries in the event of a shutdown, a measure that Obama dismissed as a “distraction” and promised to veto. Yet Brewer, whose sister serves in the Navy, claimed that Republicans were the ones playing politics with the troops.

A transcript of the relevant portions of the segment can be found below:

MSNBC
News Live
April 7, 2011

12:39 p.m. EDT

CONTESSA BREWER: Let me be clear on this. So the military personnel would get partial paychecks for the first half of April and if a shutdown extends into the second half of this month, paychecks would stop. I have a sister in the Navy, in California, with three little kids at home. Half a paycheck is not going to cut it for her. I get the concern now.

How frustrated are you that members of the House, your colleagues – maybe across the aisle but colleagues nevertheless – are willing to see our military people forgo paychecks because they want to see the EPA hurt or they want to see Planned Parenthood hurt?

Rep. LINDA SANCHEZ (D-Calif.): Again, it’s unconscionable to me that they’re using these families – real families with real needs – as pawns for this ideological end game. And the fact of the matter is it’s going to hurt a lot of people, military families especially. These people are obligated to show up and go to work because they are part of our nation’s defense, they’re essential and they won’t get paid. And there’s no guarantee that they’d be retroactively paid either. I don’t understand that.

BREWER: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is already firing away at President Obama for threatening to veto the legislation that’s in both the House and the Senate that would continue to pay the military troops. I’m reading between the lines here from the administration and thinking the reason the President doesn’t want to see this go through is because he doesn’t want to give Republicans breathing room to say “well we at least funded the troops.” The 800,000 federal workers go home without a paycheck. But is that your understanding too? Is that what you think is happening, that the president wants the pressure to get a real compromise and keep the government running?

--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.