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US Intelligence Chiefs Warn Against Government Shutdown

In this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
In this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Besides cutting off pay to the troops and furloughing thousands, a government shutdown would pose a grave threat to national security, two of the nation's top intelligence officials said Tuesday.

James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, asked, "What better time for a cyber-attack by an adversary when much of our expertise might be furloughed?"

Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, head of U.S. Cyber Command, warned that another government shutdown two years after the previous 16-day shutdown in 2013 would cause many in his ranks to leave for the civilian sector and better job security.

"In addition to the threat piece that the DNI has highlighted, my other concern is -- if we do this again -- is the amount of our workforce that says, 'Twice in two years?'"

He said many of his best people would say, "As much as I love the mission, as much as I believe in defending the nation, I can't put myself or my family through this. I've got to go work in the commercial sector."

"That would be terrible for us. Because despite all of our technology, never forget: It is men and women who power this enterprise. That's our advantage," Rogers said.

Clapper and Rogers were testifying at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on cyber threats chaired by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who has backed a continuing resolution to continue funding the government at current levels to avoid a shutdown.

The Senate and House appeared on track to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government through at least Dec. 11 before the midnight Wednesday deadline that would not include a provision to defund Planned Parenthood that has been demanded by House and Senate conservatives.

With misgivings, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, was preparing a bill on a continuing resolution to take to the Senate floor for a vote.

"The bill hardly represents my preferred method for funding the government, but it's now the most viable way forward after Democrats' extreme actions forced the country into this situation," McConnell told reporters.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who announced last week that he would resign in late October, has said that the House will vote on the spending bill immediately after the Senate passes it.

A short-term continuing resolution would only put off the fight over Planned Parenthood funding and keeping the government functioning until December, when the bargaining will become more difficult on a long-term spending plan. In addition to another Planned Parenthood battle, lawmakers will also have to agree on raising the national debt limit.

--Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@military.com.

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