Government Funding and Its Impact on National Security

By Bob Feidler

Funding for the federal government must be approved prior to Oct. 1, or there is a risk of a partial government shutdown. It is not likely to have a major impact on national security – but there are some unanswered questions. Currently the House has passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the government thru Dec. 15; the Senate is expected to pass a CR Sept. 25 that would fund the government thru about mid-November. However, as a result of a provision added by the House defunding the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), if and when the bodies can resolve their differences is uncertain.  

The size of the federal workforce, including civilians, postal service employees and active-duty service members, is approximately 4.1 million. Roughly 800,000 federal civilian employees are in danger of being furloughed. However, most federal workers would continue to work because the government considers them “essential” workers. About 1.4 million active duty military personnel and about 1.3 million civilian workers are exempt from furloughs in the event of a government shutdown because they have jobs in defense, health care or other areas of national security and/or emergency-related fields. Additionally, the postal service does not depend on annual congressional appropriations so they are not in danger.

Political appointees, the president, the vice president, lawmakers and certain legislative staff also are not subject to furlough. Social security and veterans benefits are likely to continue substantially undisturbed. 

It is not clear how the Reserve Components will be treated but guidance from the Pentagon is expected by the end of this week. It is likely that drilling reservists will report as normal during the first weekend of the month, however, for a variety of reasons, and they will likely ultimately be paid although this might be delayed. The status of DoD civilians to include Mil Techs is uncertain at this time although many DoD civilians will fall within exempt categories. It is likely that retirees will continue to receive their retirement checks without substantial interruption.