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No mid-Oct. paycheck for troops if government shuts down, lawmaker says

Sep. 23, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Showdown Over a Shutdown

If the White House and lawmakers on Capitol Hill fail to agree on a temporary spending deal by Monday, the U.S. government will shut down for the first time since 1996. Click here for complete coverage.

With one week to go before a potential partial government shutdown, a key Republican lawmaker is warning troops to be financially prepared for the possibility of not getting a mid-October paycheck.

Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, R-Fla., chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, warns that the troops’ morale and readiness will suffer even though the Defense Department does not shut down when its funding stops.

“All military personnel will continue to serve and accrue pay, but will not actually be paid until appropriations are available,” Young said. The mid-month payday would be the first in jeopardy.

Additionally, he said most travel and permanent change of station moves “would be delayed or canceled” and benefits for line-of-duty deaths also would be suspended.

Military hospitals and clinics will remain open but would scale back on operations, “impacting routine medical and dental procedures,” Young said. He did not specifically mention any impact on Tricare health insurance benefits, but in past government shutdowns, payments to medical providers were delayed but treatment was still available.

Maintenance for facilities and weapons would stop, Young said, and most defense and service civilian employees would be “furloughed until appropriations are available.”

“Readiness and morale of our armed forces will suffer,” he said. “The impact of a shutdown on the department and the military and civilian families — many of whom live paycheck to paycheck — is simply catastrophic.”

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a 76-day funding bill that would keep the government running from Oct. 1, the start of fiscal 2014, until Dec. 15. Most government agencies, including the Defense Department, could continue operating at existing funding levels.

A bill to keep the government running is not unusual, but this measure, H.J. Res. 59, is different. It includes a section defunding the 2010 Affordable Care Act health care reform. The White House has warned that President Obama would veto the bill if this provision is included.

There is a second, equally controversial rider on the bill, the Full Faith and Credit Act, which details a priority list for paying bills if the government exceeds its $16.7 trillion debt limit. Creditors would be paid first, with military and federal civilian paychecks, disabled veterans’ checks, Medicare payments to doctors, school lunch programs and other government debts ranking lower.

The Senate is due to take up the short-term spending bill Monday, but there is a deadline of midnight Sept. 30 for enactment of a bill to avoid shutdown.

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the House Appropriations Committee chairman, agreed with Young’s assessment that troops won’t get paid if the government runs out of money.

“A government shutdown is a political game in which everyone loses,” he said, calling the House-passed bill one that “simply keeps the lights on in our government.”

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