Friday Shutdown Postponed One Week

April 28, 2017

Congress averted a government shutdown by agreeing to a one-week continuing resolution. The deal allows the government to keep operating while lawmakers hammer out a spending deal to last until September.

Absent a compromise, the government would have shut down at midnight Friday, Apr. 28.

The deal provides a modest increase in defense spending, proposing an additional $30 billion for defense. It remains uncertain if the final deal will include the entire amount or if the money will have to come out of the 2018 defense budget.

The compromise comes amid tense negotiations between Congress and the White House. This week the Trump administration backed off from insisting a budget deal include funding for controversial border security measures. The administration also agreed to continue funding for health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. 

Despite the spectacle of it all, the phrase “government shutdown” is a misnomer. In the event of a government shutdown, servicemembers on active duty still have to show up, essential government services would remain open, and veterans and retirees would continue to receive benefits.

However, shutdowns place active duty pay in jeopardy and threaten the jobs of DoD civilians deemed “non-essential,” as they could be furloughed. According to the Office of Personnel Management, about 30 percent of federal civilians are veterans. That means shutdowns can be particularly painful for those individuals.  

It also means the government would stop processing new applications for programs like Social Security, Medicare, and other government benefits. That means, for instance, if a servicemember were killed in the line of duty during a shutdown, DoD would not have the authority to process an application for death benefits until the shutdown ended.

For additional information on how a government shutdown could affect troops, veterans, and their families,click here.

Shutdowns typically cost taxpayers more money than if the government remained open. Disruptions in projects and services result in delays and cost overruns. 

Continuing resolutions also hurt the military services. With few exceptions, continuing resolutions keep funding and authorizations at previously set levels. Without special permission, the services can't enter into new contracts, start new projects, or adequately plan for future missions. When funding eventually arrives, military leaders have only a limited amount of time to execute an annual budget.

The threat of government shutdowns, political brinksmanship, and the use of continuing resolutions are becoming increasingly common in Washington. 

New Normal CRs

 

In a set of tweets, Todd Harrison, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted a sad milestone on April 15:

Todd Harrison Tweet 1

Todd Harrison Tweet 2

 

“Think about it,” says MOAA Vice President for Government Relations Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret). “For a majority of those currently serving, all they've known are two things: war and budget uncertainty.”

Congress needs to put partisan differences aside and return to regular order.

 

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