Stars and Stripes
September 24, 2013
WASHINGTON – Military troops, including those in conflict zones, may have their paychecks delayed if elected officials in Washington can’t work out a deal to fund government operations in the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1, the Pentagon said Monday.
Large numbers of civilians could be temporarily furloughed, however, and it would require an act of Congress for them to get retroactive pay.
In a memo sent late Monday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told DOD employees that the White House Office of Management and Budget had directed the Pentagon update its plans for a shutdown, as reported by Stars and Stripes last week.
As has been the case in recent years when earlier shutdowns threatened, military members will continue to serve regardless of the funding status of the government, Carter wrote. A large number of civilians would be furloughed if the government shuts down, he said, with civilians deemed necessary for the safety of life and property expected to be required to stay on the job.
But officials have yet to determine which civilians would remain at work, Pentagon press secretary George Little said Monday. In April 2011, when legislators worked out a continuing resolution to fund the government just about an hour before government funding lapsed, Pentagon officials had been estimating half of civilians would be furloughed.
Those designated to keep working in 2011 included medical workers, teachers at DoDEA schools and emergency first responders, as well as others whose absence would immediately impede military operations. Divisions not funded directly by Congressional appropriations also would not be subject to a shutdown.
Little said that if the government shuts down, Pentagon officials don’t know the deadline for the government to reopen in time for military members to get their next paycheck on time.
Military members and civilians who work through the shutdown, should it happen, will receive back pay, Carter said. But temporarily furloughed civilians would not make up the lost pay without help from politicians.
“A lapse in appropriations would mean that DOD civilian personnel would not be automatically entitled to retroactive pay, and that a subsequent act by Congress would need to restore that pay,” Little said.
If an ideologically deadlocked Congress fails to make another 11th-hour deal and the government does shut down — something that hasn’t happened since December 1995 — Little said all civilian employees should report Tuesday morning to find out if they are to stay at work or be furloughed.