Federal Agencies, Servicemembers Brace for Possible Shutdown

Poll finds military members pessimistic about chances of keeping government open

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Tea Party Republicans want to "drive the economy off a cliff, 'Thelma and Louise' style." (Photo: AP) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says Tea Party Republicans want to "drive the economy off a cliff, 'Thelma and Louise' style." (Photo: AP)

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Federal agencies are once again finding themselves in the position of having to decide what to do if the federal government shuts down next Monday evening.

As published reports have maintained, much of the government will continue to function, including mail service and troops staying put. But the paychecks of more than 800,000 federal workers could be jeopardized if they’re told to stay home next week, according to The Washington Post.

Indeed, while more than 2 million other employees who are considered essential by the government—including the active military—would be entitled to their salaries, they may not get paid on time, the Post reported.

A glance at federal agencies’ contingency plans as of Tuesday on the Office of Management and Budget’s website shows a list of plans that haven’t been touched since the last shutdown loomed in 2011.

Indeed, John Nester, a spokesman for the Securities and Exchange Commission, told ThinkAdvisor Tuesday that the SEC is “currently reviewing” its plan and has “no update” to report at the present time.  

As Time reported on Tuesday, it’s safe to “assume that most agency priorities have not significantly changed: in many cases the spending bill that is set to expire Monday is the same one that nearly expired two years ago.”

However, The Post notes that while no law exists requiring that nonessential employees be compensated if they are ordered off the job, Congress has in the past voted to reimburse their losses once shutdowns ended. “But this go-round could be different. The bitterly divided Congress includes many lawmakers who are unsympathetic to the plight of federal workers and could be loath to help them recoup their money,” says The Post.

The just–released First Command Financial Behaviors Index found that the majority of servicemembers and their families doubt that lawmakers will take appropriate actions to avoid a government shutdown in October or a second round of sequestration in the coming year.

The latest survey results reveal that 86% of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) are not confident that Congress will pass a continuing resolution to fund the government by Sept. 30 and avoid a partial shutdown of federal operations. Also, 71% doubt that lawmakers will be able to take appropriate action to avoid another sequester in the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor Monday that two dozen Senate Republicans have spoken out against Tea Party Republicans’ “foolhardy plan to drive the economy off a cliff, Thelma and Louise style.”

The reviews are in: “The ransom demanded by House Republicans in exchange for keeping the government open is unworkable and unrealistic,” Reid stated in reference to the bill passed by the House Sept. 20, which funds the government until mid-December but seeks to defund the Affordable Care Act.

President Barack Obama “has been clear," Reid said. "I have been clear. Any bill that defunds Obamacare is dead on arrival in the Senate.”

Reid went on to state that this week the Senate “will act as quickly as Tea Party Republicans will allow. Once the Senate has acted, House Republicans will face a choice whether to pass a clean continuing resolution or shut down the federal government.”

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Check out Government Shutdown Wars Return: 5 Reasons This Time Is Worse on ThinkAdvisor.

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