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Pentagon Bracing for US Government Shutdown

Sep. 23, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By ANDREW TILGHMAN and MARCUS WEISGERBER   |   Comments
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Showdown Over a Shutdown

If the White House and lawmakers on Capitol Hill fail to agree on a temporary spending deal by Monday, the US government will shut down for the first time since 1996. Click here for complete coverage.

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is bracing for a government-wide shutdown that would potentially force troops to work without a paycheck and send thousands of civilians home until Congress reaches a new budget agreement.

US Defense Department spokesman George Little said Monday that the Office of Management Budget has ordered the military to prepare for a shutdown, which includes reviewing which civilians might be considered essential and instructed to come to work despite the shutdown. It’s unclear whether those civilians would be paid for that work.

Troops will stay on the job regardless of a potential shutdown. Their paychecks might be delayed, but they would be entitled to retroactive pay after government functions resume.

The federal government will shutdown automatically on Oct. 1, which is the first day of fiscal year 2014, unless lawmakers agree to a budget or a continuing resolution that would allow the military to carry on under the same spending levels as fiscal year 2013.

Little said overseas operations, including the war effort in Afghanistan, would not be directly affected by the shutdown.

The last government shutdown was in January 1996 and ended after three weeks.

While the Pentagon has yet to issue shutdown guidance, prior drills the Pentagon conducted in anticipated a government shutdown show areas DoD is likely to exempt should government operations cease on Oct. 1.

In anticipation of a March 2011 government shutdown — DoD drafted guidance that detailed divisions and offices that would have been required to report to work. The Office of Management and Budget last week instructed federal departments to update 2011 guidance .

Exempted offices and operations included officials on deployment orders, including “administrative, logistical, medical and other activities in direct support of such operations,” the guidance stated. Activities and forces assigned to combatant commands to execute “planned on contingent operations necessary for national security” were also exempt as were command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities.

Acquisition and logistics officials supporting these exempted activities were required to work. As were activities activities “required to contract for and distribute items authorized by the Feed and Forage Act,” which allows DoD to obtain clothing, subsistence, forage, fuel, quarters, transportation, medical and hospital supplies with an appropriations bill.

All military personnel were required to “continue in a normal duty status regardless of their affiliation with exempt or non-exempt activities,” the guidance stated. Civilian workers with non-exempt activities would have been furloughed.

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