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Military Matters

Apr 8, 2011 6:06 PM by KRTV

Military pay affected by government shutdown?

With just hours remaining before a possible federal government shutdown, many people are concerned about military pay during such a situation.

In the event of a shutdown, military personnel will still be required to report for duty and perform their assigned duties, but would not actually receive their pay until the shutdown is over.

Without an appropriations act passed by Congress, the Defense Department cannot disperse funds except for very narrow exceptions for safety of life and protection of property.

Jim Garamone of the American Forces Press Service spoke with an official who said, "Based on these exceptions, we can maintain key national security functions: the war in Afghanistan, the transition in Iraq, Libya operations and humanitarian operations in Japan, and other key national security missions."

All military personnel are "excepted" if the government is closed and will report to work. Only civilians in excepted positions would be directed to report to work.

(DFAS: military, retired, civilian pay FAQ)

"All others will be placed on no-notice, non-paid furlough status," the official said. "We estimate about 400,000 civilians will be furloughed."

A shutdown would cause pay issues, the official said, noting the April 15 military pay day would have only half a paycheck.

"We will be able to pay the military retroactively once we get an appropriation," he said. "But in the meantime, it's tough on men and women in the military. They have kids to feed, car payments to make and mortgages to pay like we all do."

If the shutdown is over by April 12, Defense Finance and Accounting Service officials said they believe they would be able to get the full pay into the checks by April 15. If not, the service is looking at a special "catch-up" payday for troops.

Military retirees' paychecks would not be affected by a government shutdown; according to DFAS, military retiree and annuitants are not paid from Continuing Resolution appropriations, so they will be paid on the regular schedule.

For DOD civilians, the April 15 check will be complete for most because of the way the pay period occurs. For those directed to work, they can be paid retroactively. For those furloughed, Congress would have to pass special authority to pay them.

"If (the shutdown) were to go as long as April 30, then neither military nor civilians will get any pay at all," the senior defense official said.

To address the situation, U.S. Senator Max Baucus on Friday introduced a bill to continue support services for military families and troops in addition to pay, in the event of a government shutdown.

The bill also continues pay for border patrol and customs agents.

In a statement released on Friday, Baucus said, "As threats of a shutdown continue, we have a responsibility to protect the folks who put their lives on the line to protect us. This bill does just that by securing pay for our troops fighting overseas, services for their families, and pay for the border patrol and customs agents who keep us safe and secure here at home. There is no question our troops must get paid for their courageous sacrifice, but support for our troops goes well beyond a paycheck. It's proper care and screening for folks like the 819th RED HORSE Squadron that just returned to Malmstrom from Afghanistan."

The bill would ensure funding for the following in the event of a shutdown:

- Pay for members of the military and Customs and Border Protection.

- Pay for civilians and contractors that support military forces and those protecting the border.

- Programs that provide support for members of the military, military families, and those protecting the border. Such programs include providing rehabilitative services and counseling for combat injuries ... and family support services like childcare.

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