With shutdown looming, Pentagon plans still in flux
WASHINGTON — With the possibility of a government shutdown looming on Friday, the Pentagon is still working out details regarding which operations would continue and which would cease, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Tuesday.
Likewise, no decision has been made whether servicemembers’ paychecks could be suspended if a government shutdown stretches more than a few days.
“We have not been able yet to arrive at a conclusive determination about how everyone’s pay would be impacted by this,” Morrell said. “We are still working through this.”
Guidance to help commanders of individual components within the Pentagon decide what functions are necessary for national security — and thus exempt from shutdown — is being formulated by Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn, Morrell said. Once they have the guidance, commanders will recommend what should continue, he said.
“They will respond with what they believe to be their core and vital functions, and ultimately the determination will be made by the secretary and others about how to proceed,” he said. “We’re just formulating the guidance and we’ve got time to get this all done, but again, [we] hope it can be averted.”
The likelihood of a shutdown seemed to increase Tuesday when the Obama administration rejected a Republican measure that would have funded the government for another week but cut $12 billion from the budget.
If government grinds to a halt, Morrell said, the military would still be able to handle its broad range of responsibilities, including conflicts in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, and humanitarian aid missions in Japan.
“We would retain the ability and authority to continue to protect our vital interests around the world, to safeguard the nation’s security, to wage the wars were fighting and the operations we’re conducting right now,” Morrell said.