DOD: No troop pay, civilians could be furloughed if government shuts down
By TRAVIS J. TRITTEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 25, 2015
WASHINGTON — Troops will not get paychecks and Defense Department civilians could be furloughed if Congress fails to pass a new federal budget and the government shuts down Thursday, according to a DOD memo sent out to personnel.
The department was still holding out hope for a solution on Capitol Hill, according to the Friday memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work. However, if lawmakers do not act by midnight Wednesday, the fallout could be similar to the last government shutdown in 2013, which caused turmoil and temporarily forced about 350,000 Pentagon workers on leave without pay.
“During a government shutdown, all military personnel would continue in a normal duty status. However, they would not be paid until Congress provides funding,” Work wrote.
Civilians deemed crucial to protecting human safety and property will continue working as normal if a shutdown occurs, and will not receive any pay until there is a budget solution, according to a contingency plan that was also released Friday. The final decision on who makes the cut will be left up to the service secretaries and the heads of DOD components.
All others will be furloughed without pay, the plan says. Non-essential DOD activities would be ceased in an “orderly and deliberate” way, including any temporary duty travel.
“As we saw in 2013, should a shutdown occur, and depending on the length of the shutdown, these determinations may change over time as circumstances evolve,” Work wrote.
The last time the government shut down for more than two weeks — over attempts to defund Obamacare — about 800,000 federal workers were placed on furlough. But the DOD was able to bring its civilians back to work after about a week.
Troops and personnel were to be contacted by their chains of command with more details on the shutdown plans.
The clock was ticking on Capitol Hill on Friday with a glimmer of hope for a budget deal in the Senate early next week following a fight over defunding Planned Parenthood, but there was major political upheaval in the House with the announced resignation of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Senators rejected a temporary Republican budget Thursday that would have cut all support for the federally subsidized health care provider, in what was seen as an attempt to appease right-wing conservatives in the party.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was set to introduce a new budget resolution Monday that could fund the government at current levels until December but does not include the controversial Planned Parenthood measure.
“There are two different roads that we can take. One is to insist that no more money go to Planned Parenthood and cause a government shutdown,” McConnell said after his first budget proposal failed Thursday. “The other is to take a slightly longer-term approach, taking advantage of the fact that we have the attention of the country as probably never before.”
Meanwhile, conservative efforts in the House to defund Planned Parenthood using a federal budget bill were thrown into uncertainty Friday.
Boehner stunned Washington by announcing he will resign from Congress in October, a move that was seen as a victory for conservative Republicans in the chamber’s Freedom Caucus who want to a more hardline strategy on Planned Parenthood and other issues.
“It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House,” he said in a written statement. “It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on Oct. 30.”
Boehner’s ouster showed the power of his far-right foes in the party but it may also open up the possibility of a budget deal since those lawmakers now know he is on the way out.