Soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan will not receive paychecks next week if the government fails to come together on a resolution to keep the government funded and avert a shutdown before funding dries up on midnight Friday, senior government officials said today.
Military personnel will be paid eventually but not until Congress appropriates money to the Department of Defense.
Marine Michael Goodwin, who serves in Camp Pendleton, Calif. and is about to be deployed overseas, said the shutdown could put his rent payment in jeopardy.
"The main priority is gas so I could get back and forth to work," said Goodwin, who commutes about an hour to work every day. "And if I don't have enough for gas, then there wont be enough for food," "or rent, or car insurance."
"We won't have a place to live if we don't get paid," said his wife, Denise.
Like Goodwin, many military personnel and their spouses survive paycheck to paycheck. Many who are in the field and who are not married have set up automatic payments, and if they don't get word of the shutdown in time, their payments and credit could be impacted.
"Everybody's being caught flat-footed," said Kathy Moakler, a mother of two active-duty service members and government relations director at the National Military Family Association. "I am personally incensed that [at] a time when our families are undergoing stress as it is, that Congress would force them to undergo more stress."
Republicans plan to introduce a bill Thursday that would fund the Department of Defense until September and keep the government running for another week, while cutting $12 billion in discretionary spending. But President Obama has said he won't support such an extension without a long-term plan and it's unlikely to pass in the Senate.
Even if a deal is reached, "it's going to take two or three days to actually put it all together," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said today. "We believe it's important to move this troop funding bill that would keep the government funded for another week."
Civilian employees at the Pentagon could take a big hit if the government closes its doors. Since "non-essential" staff is furloughed during a government shutdown, Congress must decide once it reaches a resolution whether to give back pay to dismissed employees.
"We expect a significant number of civilian DOD employees will unfortunately be furloughed if the government shuts down," a senior administration official said today.
Louis Bornman, a DOD employee who has spent 12 years of active duty in the Army, said getting furloughed could jeopardize his entire retirement savings. He added that it will also adversely impact the federal government and taxpayers.
"It is very demoralizing to think you're going to be laid off and not paid," said Bornman, based in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. "People will have to work overtime in the near future, which ultimately will cost the government more money. ... It's very disconcerting that you're looked upon as disposable when you're providing that backup service that the nation depends upon."
Defense contractors also will be impacted. During the last shutdown, contractors did not receive back pay, which some Democrats said could put small companies out of business.
"It is going to be very severe," said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va. "Large contractors are going to be OK. They have a sufficient cash reserve. Small contractors are not. ... They are hanging on by their fingernails."