The Department of Defense is preparing for the possibility of a government shutdown by the end of the month if Congress is unable to agree to a deal to keep the federal government funded. The Pentagon told active-duty service members they will be required to keep working, but their pay might be delayed while the shutdown is ongoing.

“We hope that Congress will prevent a costly shutdown,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at a press conference. “The administration’s efforts remain focused on preventing a shutdown and a catastrophic default. In the meantime, OMB [Office of Management and Budget] is preparing for any contingency, as is consistent with long-standing practice across multiple administrations.”

The White House later confirmed that OMB has already issued notices to federal agencies to prepare for a possible government shutdown.

The OMB itself is optimistic that Congress will pass a resolution that will allow the government to remain funded until the end of December.

“Consistent with longstanding practice across multiple administrations, OMB is preparing for any contingency, and determinations about specific programs are being actively reviewed by state agencies,” said OMB spokesman Abdullah Hasan. “More importantly, there is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations, and we are confident they will do so.”

Along with the potential government shutdown, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has sounded the alarm on the looming debt crisis, which she believes can be much more devastating to the United States if left unresolved.

Yellen warned that if Congress does not pass a bill to either suspend the debt limit or raise the debt ceiling, the U.S. could default on its debt. 

“The U.S. has never defaulted. Not once,” wrote Yellen in an opinion article. “Doing so would likely precipitate a historic financial crisis that would compound the damage of the continuing public health emergency.”

Armed forces will still defend the country in case of a government shutdown

A government shutdown prevents workers from working because the government would be unable to pay for their salaries. This affects everyone employed by the federal government, including the military.

“Nobody wants to see a shutdown,” said Kirby. “And we obviously will take seriously, as we always do, and as I think you’ve seen through previous shutdowns, should there be one, that we have to continue to defend the nation, and we have to make sure that the capabilities, the resources, the people are in place to continue to look after our national security interests.”

In a memo to employees of the Defense Department, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said that, in the event of a shutdown, the armed forces “must continue operations necessary for the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

This means active-duty service members will be forced to keep working. But they may experience delays in receiving their pay as a result of the government shutdown.

Reserve personnel that perform active duty functions will also be forced to keep working in a limited capacity. Their inactive duty functions will be canceled.

Civilian personnel who are “necessary to carry out or support excepted activities” will also be forced to keep working after Sept. 30 in the event of a shutdown. This exemption covers around 357,000 of the Defense Department’s civilian workforce. The remaining 429,000 civilian workers will be furloughed for the duration of the shutdown.

The Pentagon has assured the armed forces that its military medical and dental care services will continue in the event of a shutdown. Childcare services and several essential family support services will also continue. But office hours could be shortened for many.

In addition, the Coast Guard, whose pay comes through the Department of Homeland Security, not the Pentagon, will also be forced to remain on duty. But like the other members of the armed forces, their pay could be delayed in the event of a shutdown.

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