If Democrat and Republican lawmakers are unable to resolve their differences and fund the government by December 9, the government will be shut down.
The temporary funding keeping government programs running will expire on Dec. 8th and lawmakers have until then to agree on a budget deal to keep things afloat for the rest of the year.
But what happens in the event a deal is not struck?
All military personnel on active duty can plan on continuing to carry out their normal roles. The last time the government dodged a shutdown, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work sent a memo outlining troops on active duty would not be impacted, despite some portions of the government were closed.
But what’s true for those on active duty isn’t for all civilian DoD employees. That’s because only those whose jobs “are necessary to carry out or support expected activities” would be asked to continue working. The others would be furloughed, meaning they wouldn’t work and wouldn’t be paid.
Both military personnel and DoD employees shouldn’t bank on receiving a paycheck in the event of a government shutdown. During the last government shutdown in October 2013, Congress passed special legislation that allowed service members to collect their paychecks. But such measures aren’t guaranteed.
According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service website, “In case of a potential government shutdown, the Department of Defense has no legal authority to pay any personnel – military or civilian – for the days during which the government is shut down.”
During the 2013 shutdown, DoD civilians who were furloughed weren’t paid, but Congress did approve back pay for those workers.
Retirees can plan on still receiving their checks because the funds used to pay them are from a retirement trust, and are not based on any of the continuing resolution appropriations.
Medical and dental care would be available for service members at on-base facilities even if the government is shut down. TRICARE wouldn’t be impacted so they would be free to seek care in the private-sector.
While it is likely that some VA employees would be furloughed, the department’s facilities and clinics would likely remain open and fully functional.
In April of this year, during the last budgetary crisis, VA Secretary David Shulkin said to CBS’s Antony Mason “The VA is in a fortunate situation in that we have what’s called an advanced appropriations so we get our money a year ahead of time because I think Congress understands that the VA can’t shut down, that we are there for the safety of our veterans.”