The Pentagon is preparing for a possible government shutdown Friday night, just in case Congress can’t come to an agreement on this year’s budget.
The deadline to approve the budget is April 8, and follows several continuing resolutions that have kept the government functioning as Congress wrangles over budget cuts.
“While the administration believes that a government shutdown will be averted, the department, including the service leadership, is engaged in prudent planning so that we will be ready if one were to occur,” said Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn III. “While a shutdown would be extremely disruptive … I want to underscore that we would still have the authority and the ability to continue key national security activities, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, operations in Libya and humanitarian assistance in Japan.”
Lynn is going to put out guidance to major DoD components about how to plan for a shutdown – what constitutes an exempt or essential operation or mission and who would be needed to operate those missions.
One thing is now certain: military members would continue to earn their wages if the government does shut down on Friday. The Office of Management and Budget said the service members will continue to earn their wages, but will have to be reimbursed once the government is up and running once more.
Not all federal employees have that assurance. Some will be furloughed and not earn any pay for the downtime.
Civilians working in the DoD might be exempt from a shutdown because of their work in critical areas, or because they are funded through sources outside the federal government. However, a significant number of civlian employees will be furloughed if the government shuts down.