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If government closes, commissaries will, too

Apr. 7, 2011 - 05:42PM   |   Last Updated: Apr. 7, 2011 - 05:42PM  |  
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Attention, commissary shoppers: You may want to get a last trip in the commissary, just in case the government shuts down — because if the government shuts down, so will the commissaries, according to Defense spokeswoman Air Force Maj. Monica Matoush.

Commissaries have not been included in the Defense Department's "excepted" activities that would continue to operate in the event of a shutdown, which is looking increasingly likely as the federal budget impasse on Capitol Hill drags on.

The Defense Commissary Agency has asked for a redesignation of some employees in order to keep overseas stores open, but a final decision has not been made, Matoush said.

What happens to all the meat, produce, dairy and eggs that are not bought if a shutdown happens at midnight Friday? Store officials are working on contingencies to handle that.

Commissary officials are expected to provide more information in the coming hours and days.

The shutdown will have little effect on military exchange operations, because the majority of their budgets do not rely on taxpayer dollars.

"While the federal government shuts down, business at the exchange remains largely unchanged," said Col. Virgil Williams, chief of staff for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. "However, some transactions may be delayed, such as the purchase of firearms which require background checks or other federal government actions."

Some exchange stores, such as shoppettes, sell a limited amount of groceries.

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