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Government Shutdown Would Mean No Pay For Soldiers

Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin points out what could be one of the unintended consequences of a government shutdown:

One consequence of a government shutdown — which will occur on April 8 unless Congress passes a new funding bill – is that members of the military will no longer be paid, even though they will continue to work and fight. And as legislators and the Obama administration struggle to avoid a shutdown, officials are preparing contingency plans to keep key national security and foreign policy activities running when the money tap runs dry.

Programs that are essential for the safety and security of the country are exempted from a shutdown, but the administration still has to figure out where to draw the line between essential and non-essential functions, and how to keep key national security functions going without money.

(….)

In the event of a shutdown, all uniformed military personnel would continue to work but would stop receiving paychecks, an official familiar with the government’s planning told The Cable. As April 8 falls in the middle of the Defense Department’s two-week pay period, military personnel would actually receive a paycheck totaling half the normal amount. A large number of Pentagon civilians would be furloughed without pay for the duration of the shutdown. Support structures for military families, such as military schools, would remain open. When the shutdown ends, the soldiers would get their back pay but the civilians might not.

This would be the first time we’ve had a government shutdown during a two three wars and, as insane as the idea was in 1995 or 1996, it’s even crazier now. Which is why our political leaders just might let it happen anyway.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. John Burgess says:

    I see this as ‘worst case possible, let’s scare the folks at home’ demagoguery on the part of the political appointees at the Pentagon. As this Navy Times article notes, DoD has not yet released its formal shut-down plan. The Pentagon could declare its payroll personnel ‘essential’ and avoid the whole matter of check issuance.

    Now, were a shut-down to be extended–something I think highly unlikely–it could potentially lead to bounced USG checks, but that’s a different issue. DoD could also reprogram funds to cover payroll for a month or two, I suspect, simply to avoid the predictable hardships.

    I don’t make light of the burden that a missed paycheck would create. Many service members do live paycheck-to-paycheck. But woe saying over military pay is like the Park Service claiming it has to close the Washington Monument because any cut to its budget just makes it impossible to keep open.

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  2. legion says:

    When Republicans say they care about our military – they’re lying.

    When Republicans say they care about this country – they’re lying.

    When Republicans say they’re trying to do anything except gather more money & power to themselves – they’re lying.

    And before you get all insulted or dismissive about my generalizations, sit & think about the level of outrage you’d be stirring if a Democrat-led Congress had pulled this kind of BS when W was President. You’d be demanding recall votes, if not open armed insurrection. Tell me I’m wrong, and I’ll call you a liar too.

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  3. legion says:

    I should point out that I’m not directing that end bit at you personally, Doug. It’s more for Pepple Who Know Who They Are…

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  4. anjin-san says:

    Which is why our political leaders the GOP just might let make it happen anyway.

    ftfy

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  5. Jay Tea says:

    Gosh, wouldn’t it have been nice if the Democrats who held Congress last year had actually done something like… oh, I dunno, even TRIED to pass a budget for the year? If Obama had, after submitting his budget, actually leaned on Pelosi to do something? If the House Democrats who put Pelosi in charge had told her “you know, we are supposed to pass a budget, you wanna get off your Botoxed ass and do something?” If Harry Reid had called her up and said “the budget has to start in the House; you wanna get of your Botoxed ass and send us something to work on?”

    It’s been about 13 months since Obama submitted his budget to the House, and that’s where it — and the entire budget process — died.

    Which is why we are in the mess we are in now. Thanks to Pelosi and the Democrats, we’re going to go an entire fiscal year without a budget, just a series of stopgap measures and piecemeal legislation with the constant looming danger of a shutdown.

    Thanks SO much, Democrats.

    J.

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  6. Andy says:

    No one is going to allow that to happen – it’s really a hollow threat.

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  7. Jay Tea says:

    And when legion opens his mouth… he’s lying.

    J.

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  8. Axel Edgren says:

    “wouldn’t it have been nice if the Democrats who held Congress last year had actually done something like… oh, I dunno, even TRIED to pass a budget for the year?”

    Like everything else, republicans would have denied it any time or attention. Every single nominee has been held up, everything has been stalled, vetoed ever since 2009. They would not even have looked at a budget, so why should the democrats have offered one?

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  9. JKB says:

    I haven’t been following this closely. So the idiot Democrats didn’t even pass a Defense Appropriations bill last fall. Way to fail guys!

    Not discounting the dependents who might be living check to check, this really isn’t going to impact ongoing operations. Servicemembers are provided food, housing and medical care, those in the war zones aren’t really looking for gas money. And they are a good loan prospect since they will, by law, be paid once the budget nonsense is over. The civilians across the government, though will be furloughed and, therefore, not earn wages. Historically, the Congress has made them whole after these events but it isn’t a given.

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  10. instead of getting into a pissing contest, let’s ask a question:

    Say the government shuts down. The government stays shut down for a month – just for the sake of argument – and is brought back.

    Would everyone receive back pay? I’m assuming so.

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  11. legion says:

    Really sharp, JT. No, the Dems haven’t gotten a viable budget in place before now. But they’re not the ones _demanding_ a gov’t shutdown. Even when W’s most ridiculous budget-busting was going on – like keeping multi-billion-dollar war appropriations off the books so the budget didn’t look even worse – Dems knew enough not to play this petty BS game. Boehner sounds like he’s trying to keep it from happening, because while I may disagree with everything he stands for, he’s not an idiot & knows a shutdown will a) hurt Repubs more than Dems and b) will hurt the country overall. But if enough Tea Party idiots push it, it’ll happen, and it’ll be THEIR FAULT, not the Dems.

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  12. legion says:

    Christopher,

    Even if they do, how many people do you know could go for a month – or longer – without _any_ income at all? How many bills do you pay right now can be just ‘pushed off’ for an indefinite period, even for something like this? How many military families do you think have enough credit to buy food for a month or two, without being able to repay a dime until some unspecified date?

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  13. wr says:

    Christopher Bowen — In the past, they have been made whole, and one assumes they would this time as well. Which doesn’t contradict what Legion says above, just meant as further information.

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  14. DC Loser says:

    The government is under no obligation to provide back pay to those employees furloughed. To think that this Congress would provide back pay is pretty laughable since they’ve been demagoguing government employees since day 1. No government employees are under the illusion there will be automatic back pay this time.

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  15. PJ says:

    @JKB:

    Servicemembers are provided food, housing and medical care, those in the war zones aren’t really looking for gas money. And they are a good loan prospect since they will, by law, be paid once the budget nonsense is over.

    So spouses of service members, who rely on their wages should instead apply for loans? I wonder how easy it would be for someone to apply for loan on their spouses income without him or her being present? Or for a service member to contact their local bank from Iraq or Afghanistan trying to set up a loan. And don’t get me start on them having to pay interest.

    I agree with legion. They really don’t care.

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  16. Andy says:

    Some of you partisans need to realize that if pay for troops is cut (which, again, I don’t think has a snowball’s chance), the responsibility will rest with both parties in Congress and the administration. Any of them can make an exemption – the congress can pass legislation exempting the military (and if fact, there is a bill in the house right now to do just that) and the Administration can exempt military payrolls by declaring them “essential” which is what happened in 1995. So, for the troops to actually work without pay requires specific actions by members of both parties to make it happen.

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  17. wr says:

    PJ — Fortunately, there are always helpful payday loan companies near bases willing to lend to anyone at a rate of no more than a few thousand percent per years. Thank God the Republicans managed to shut down any regulations of these parasites, or the soldiers’ wives would have nowhere to go.

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  18. If Obama had, after submitting his budget, actually leaned on Pelosi to do something? If the House Democrats who put Pelosi in charge had told her “you know, we are supposed to pass a budget, you wanna get off your Botoxed ass and do something?”

    The house did pass a budget. It passed two of them, in fact. They both got filibustered in the Senate.

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  19. Jay Tea says:

    legion, Boehner’s put forward a one-week extension. Obama’s rejected it. What’s your fallback lie now?

    Also, it’s worth noting that the Defense Department falls wholly within the Executive Branch, headed by Barack Obama. So the people who will be making the decisions on spending priorities in the event of a shutdown are his appointees and others who ultimately answer to him.

    So if the military payroll goes on the chopping block, it would be at the direction of (or, at least, the consent of) the Chief Executive and their Commander In Chief.

    Who’s that again? And what party?

    J.

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  20. legion says:

    JT,
    You continue to be deliberately thick.

    Boehner’s extension amounts to ‘accept our tragic proposal now, without alterations, or accept it a week from now’.

    Secondly, _if_ the military gets money, _then_ it could pay service members. If it doesn’t, it can’t. And even if Congress allows the military to have _some_ money for paying people, it’s almost certain they wouldn’t be fully-funded during any kind of ‘shut-down’. Housing allowances, education allowances, tuition assistance, per diem, separation pay, hazardous-duty pay… all of those things are separate & distinct from base pay, as anybody with any connection to the military knows. Again, the military has some decision-making power over prioritizing, but only _after_ they get the actual money.

    No matter what you think of Democrats, this “crisis” is being created purely by the Republicans. They are putting “scoring point off the opposition” ahead of the welfare of the country they work for. They’re scum.

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  21. Jay Tea says:

    Astonishing, legion. You just presented an argument utterly uncluttered and uncontaminated by anything actually resembling a single fact. Bravo, that’s a remarkable achievement.

    Time to break that hermetic seal you’ve constructed to protect yourself from reality.

    Fact: President Obama submitted his budget proposal on February 1, 2010 for the 2010 fiscal year. (Thanks again, mantis.)

    Fact: The 2011 fiscal year started October 1, 2010.

    Fact: For the seven months in between, the House of Representatives — under the “leadership” of Nancy Pelosi — did JACK SHIT on the budget.

    Fact: They continued this inaction right through the election and the end of the calendar year (and the end of that Congress.

    Fact: The Republicans took power in the House in January 2011.

    Fact: President Obama submitted his 2012 budget on February 1, 2011. (Thanks again, mantis.)

    Fact:The Republicans in the House are currently trying to put together budgets for TWO years at once, thanks to the Democrats who ran the House (right into the ground) completely and utterly abandoning their duty over the last year.

    Fact: The proposal the House just passed extended funding for most of the government for one more week — and the Defense Department through the end of the fiscal year.

    Fact: Even in a “shutdown,” there is still funding for “essential services” — and each individual federal department chooses how to allot that funding.

    Fact: Each individual federal department falls under the control of the Executive Department, and is directed by people appointed by the President.

    Fact: those appointees are directly answerable to the President, and serve at his pleasure. Should the way they handle a “shutdown” displease the president, he can direct they act differently — or remove them from office and replace them with someone who will act in a way that meets with the president’s approval.

    Man, I feel like I just beat up a six-year-old.

    J.

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  22. jwest says:

    Doug,

    I’ve just heard from a reliable source that if there is a government shutdown, everyone in nursing homes will immediately be thrown into the street.

    Can you put that into a headline for me?

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  23. legion says:

    Fact: President Obama submitted his budget proposal on February 1, 2010 for the 2010 fiscal year. (Thanks again, mantis.)

    Fact: The 2011 fiscal year started October 1, 2010.

    Fact: For the seven months in between, the House of Representatives — under the “leadership” of Nancy Pelosi — did JACK SHIT on the budget.

    Well, let’s see. It looks like Obama actually proposed an FY2010 budget in February of 2009. And I don’t know what rock you spent 2009 and 2010 under, but the rest of us out here in the world recall a fairly continuous stream of “no” from the GOP on every legislative front. Pelosi and the Dems did “jack shit”, as you so eloquently put it, because the non-stop stonewalling by Republicans (and utter lack of _any_ counterproposal) required supermajorities for even routine Congressional actions.

    Fact: President Obama submitted his 2012 budget on February 1, 2011. (Thanks again, mantis.)

    Fact:The Republicans in the House are currently trying to put together budgets for TWO years at once, thanks to the Democrats who ran the House (right into the ground) completely and utterly abandoning their duty over the last year.

    a) There’s nothing out-of-the-ordinary about submitting a budget in February for the coming FY (refer to your failure above)
    b) EVEN IF Republicans hadn’t been the cause of the delays in passing a 2010 budget, you’re saying they didn’t even START putting together a counter-proposal for FY2010 until NOW? Really?
    (PS-I think you should stop using this ‘mantis’ guy as your fact-checker.)

    Fact: Even in a “shutdown,” there is still funding for “essential services” — and each individual federal department chooses how to allot that funding.

    Try again with reading comprehension activated. A federal department could theoretically declare 100% of its activities “essential”, but if Congress doesn’t give them any money those services won’t get money. That’s what “shutdown” means. This begins and ends in Congress. If you’re going to blame the Dems for not passing a budget over GOP stonewalling, how is it still the Dems’ fault the GOP still can’t get their shit together now that they’re in charge? Oh yeah – everything is the Dems’ fault.

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  24. Jay Tea says:

    Oh, darn. It looks like legion caught me in a numerical typo. Let me fix that:

    On February 1, 2010, Obama submitted his budget for Fiscal Year 2011, which started on October 1, 2010.

    And in the House, where Obama’s budget died, the Republicans had NO power. The House works on simple majority, and the Democrats had that locked up from January 2007 through January 2011. If – IF — the budget process had stalled in the Senate, then you might have the slightest trace of an argument. But Nancy Pelosi chose to smother the 2011 budget in its crib.

    And it’s also worth noting that the House — under Republicans — has generated several temporary spending bills, and has yet one more ready to go. It’s in the Senate where it’s being stalled by the current “party of no,” the Democrats, and threats from Obama to veto the bills.

    Oh, and thanks for catching my typo on the year. It should have been clear from the context what I meant, but I feel better having fixed it.

    J.

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  25. george says:

    I would think that all the people (mainly Republicans) who think that the smaller the gov’t the better would be ecstatic about this. The military is part of the gov’t, and so making the military smaller by refusing money for them automatically makes the gov’t smaller … this should be a good thing in their books.

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  26. mantis says:

    It’s in the Senate where it’s being stalled by the current “party of no,” the Democrats, and threats from Obama to veto the bills.

    Oh, so the Democrats should just accept the House Republicans proposal? Yeah, that’s totally what the Republicans would do in the same situation.

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  27. Jay Tea says:

    Didn’t say that, mantis. Hey, if you’re going to keep putting things in my mouth for me, could you use a little more garlic? I’m really jonesing for some of that.

    J.

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  28. mantis says:

    Didn’t say that, mantis.

    Yeah, you kind of did. They are the “party of no” to the Republican proposal. They are not the “party of no” to the Obama proposal. It goes both ways. That’s why compromise has to happen in divided government. This is real basic stuff. So by saying that by not passing/signing the Republican budget the Democrats are the “party of no,” you’re saying they should just pass the Republican proposal.

    You either don’t understand how government works or you pretend not to. Either way you don’t look good.

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  29. legion says:

    He never “looks good”, mantis, he just shouts it louder, no matter how many holes get poked in it. And then he moves the goal posts.

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  30. [...] Government Shutdown Would Mean No Pay For Soldiers (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  31. Jay Tea says:

    mantis, it was a cheap dig about how it’s the Democrats in the Senate that are shooting down the Republicans’ offers and proposals. Hardly something of substance. For you to focus on that to the exclusion of all else… man, how you’ve fallen.

    J.

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  32. mantis says:

    mantis, it was a cheap dig….For you to focus on that to the exclusion of all else… man, how you’ve fallen.

    I can’t help focusing on your “cheap digs.” That’s all you have.

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  33. [...] Government Shutdown Would Mean No Pay For Soldiers (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  34. [...] noted the concerns about the fact that a government shutdown would affect pay for soldiers serving in [...]

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  35. TiaB says:

    Let me get an answer to this one….WHO is going to pay our mortgage’s when my military active duty 20+ career husband does NOT get paid???? We have worked hard to achieve positive credit ratings. We do not overspend on things like $200.00 for hair-cuts…$100.00 for our cars to be detailed…and private jets? Congress, GOP, House Rep.’s, and President Obama…can I call you when our mortgage is due, and we cannot feed our family because our “assumed,” but missing “cut off” income, is not being given to us, because it was “shut” off? Where will we go for help when we make too much of an “assumed” income to get help from the government like others do who have never worked a day in their lives, but thrive on welfare as their primary job? Cut government spending??? How about you give me your allowance then…because my husband does NOT fight for you for free.

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  36. USMC Wife says:

    So just to fill you all in so you KNOW, I am a United States Marine Wife, and I’m gonna fill ya in on a few things, Our houseing(BAH) is paid by the goverment, Our food(BAS) is also paid by goverment and it isnt even enough to feed a family of 4 for a month, base pay pays for diapers, food, car insurance, loans, phone, gas, and satelitte, those kinds of amenties. But needless to say we dont get paid, we will go hungry and not have a roof over heads. So this is just to clarify that base pay and our houseing allowance and food allowance ARE NOT different they all come in the same check there buddy so get your facts straight. AND TIA YOU GO GIRL!!!!!!!!!! I AM WITH YA!!! I was thinking about just forwarding our bills to the white house. How do you think that would go over?

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  37. krissy says:

    As a soldier and a leader in the U.S Army, I think this if B.S, I can’t believe they not gonna pay us and still want us to come to work! As a Nco, we are taught to maintain and maintain soldiers, but I’m like I don’t know what to tell them! Some of my troops live from paycheck to paycheck, and who am I to write them up if they don’t have gas to come to work, or food to eat! In the civilian world, if there is no paycheck, they don’t go to work so why should we? I know I wont be there!

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  38. CAS says:

    I say if the government is going t turn there backs on all of those who are trying to keep us safe then i say we bring our selves back home! the military is can do anything it want i pretty sure those pencil pushing paper hanging F*#@KS cant stop them but it takes all of the military to do this. take back this country run it right our way. not some money hungry ass who sits in a chair and does nothing. its time for a change lady’s and gentlemen and the people need to make the first move with the military by its side!!!

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  39. CAS says:

    it take you the people to start this and to change it in sted of standing here complaining and watching this happen get up and lets do something. military families you have the biggest impact on those boys and women out there. don’t let these ppl take over and run this country into the ground!!! take control and bring back the sanity!!!

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  40. [...] Government Shutdown Would Mean No Pay For Soldiers (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  41. Jesse says:

    Lets see the President and Congress take the pay cuts. Hell they make more than any service member and the service members are not the ones that got us into the situation.

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  42. [...] Government Shutdown Would Mean No Pay For Soldiers (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  43. Travis A Flaherty says:

    Hello,

    I am trying to raise awareness for this. Please go to facebook and like the following group:) –> http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stand-up-for-the-US-soldiers-They-deserve-to-get-paid/195069403862769

    A humble and proud American. (Least we can do for our soldiers)

    Travis A. Flaherty

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