All military personnel, including troops in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, would go without pay in the event of a government shutdown due to the perennial failure of Congress to enact a budget on time, the Pentagon's comptroller said Thursday.
"No one gets paid" stateside and in war zones under a shutdown, Comptroller David Norquist said at a Pentagon news conference. "Payment will not be made until the shutdown is over."
The same goes for hundreds of thousands of Defense Department civilians, Norquist said. Most would be furloughed with the exception of those considered vital for national security.
While the House on Thursday passed another short-term resolution, even if the Senate follows suit, the chambers will have to do the same thing again in two weeks
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A day ago, President Donald Trump warned that a shutdown "could happen." He blamed Democrats for failing to compromise on immigration. He said Democrats want "illegal immigrants pouring into our country, bringing with them crime, tremendous amounts of crime."
A shutdown would be the worst-case scenario for national defense but another continuing resolution also would impact readiness, according to Norquist and Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokesperson.
"I can't emphasize enough how destructive a shutdown would be," Norquist said.
White noted the Pentagon has operated under stopgap measures for the last nine years -- for a total of 1,081 days -- in ways that delayed vital programs and disrupted planning. National security demanded a "robust and predictable" budget process, she said.
However, the budget process often is driven more by the politics of the moment rather than the long-term interests of the nation. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday Democrats were to blame for the continuing resolutions and the threat of a shutdown. She urged them "not to hold this bill hostage."
House and Senate Democrats have been pressing for more spending on health care, infrastructure and other domestic programs to match increases Republicans want for defense.
Although a shutdown on Friday appeared unlikely, Norquist said department contingency plans call for sending out hundreds of thousands of notices to those would be impacted.
He also said even a two-week continuing resolution would have a negative effect on the Pentagon. Norquist cited the additional funding for munitions requested by all combatant commands that was included in the proposed fiscal 2018 budget.
"A CR says 'Stop, wait, don't award that contract,'" Norquest said. The result would be a delay "in meeting the requirements of combatant commanders," he said.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.