Newspaper: State Journal-Register

October 30, 2003

Congressmen reject Durbin's pay plan for National Guard, reserves

Byline: DORI MEINERT
Copley News Service


WASHINGTON - When Illinois state employees are deployed for active duty with the National Guard and reserves, the state pays the difference between their regular salaries and their meager military incomes.

So do many corporate employers including Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Boeing Co.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., thought it was only fair that federal employees be similarly reimbursed.

Although his proposal passed the Senate recently in a lopsided 96-3 vote, House and Senate negotiators Tuesday rejected the idea.

That leaves 3,100 federal employees in Illinois - among 23,000 nationally - with only their military pay during their lengthy deployment.

Ironically, the Durbin provision was rejected by negotiators in a 16 to 13 vote, mostly along party lines.

All 15 Republicans who had voted for the measure publicly on the Senate floor voted against it in the House-Senate conference, a Durbin aide said.

One objection was its cost. But the estimated $120 million cost was well below two other items added to conference agreement the same day - items that were never in the original House or Senate bills, a Durbin aide said.

Others said the measure would cause disparity between the pay of those in the Guard and reserves and active duty personnel. But that disparity already exists with employees of states and corporations who supplement their pay, the Durbin aide said.