DOD preps for government shutdown

By Tony Bertuca / September 27, 2021 at 3:42 PM

The Pentagon is taking “prudent” steps to prepare for a government shutdown on Oct. 1 in the event Congress cannot reach a short-term spending agreement, according to a new memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.

A shutdown would mean halting the pay of active-duty U.S. military personnel and furloughing some Defense Department civilians.

While DOD would continue “excepted” operations “necessary for the safety of human life or the protection of property,” Hicks said “all other activities -- including, with few exceptions, temporary duty travel -- would need to be shut down in an orderly and deliberate fashion.”

House Democrats passed a stopgap continuing resolution last week that would keep the federal government funded through Dec. 3, but Senate Republicans have vowed to block the measure because it would suspend the U.S. debt limit until December 2022.

“The administration does not want a lapse in appropriations, which would require the federal government to shut down,” Hicks said. “The administration is willing to work with the Congress to enact a short-term continuing resolution (CR) if necessary to fund critical federal government operations and allow Congress the time to pass the full 2022 appropriations.”

Hicks notes that under a shutdown, all military personnel performing active duty would continue in their normal duty status regardless of whether they are involved in excepted activities.

However, military personnel would not be paid “until such time as Congress appropriates funds available to compensate them for this period of service,” Hicks said.

Civilians necessary to carry out excepted DOD activities would continue to do so but would also not be paid until Congress can appropriate funds for their compensation. Civilians who are not supporting excepted activities would be furloughed.

“The responsibility for determining which activities meet the criteria for being excepted from shutdown resides with the secretaries of the military departments and heads of the DOD Components, including the combatant commanders with respect to activities undertaken by their immediate headquarters and subordinate joint headquarters,” she said. “These officials may delegate this authority as they deem appropriate.”