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Absent Supplemental, DoD Furloughs Begin Next Month

If Congress fails to pass a wartime supplemental spending bill by next week, before the congressional August recess, the Pentagon will begin to run out of money for operations and to pay military and civilian personnel beginning next month, the service under-secretaries told lawmakers today.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has repeatedly warned Congress that DoD would begin to do “stupid” things if it fails to pass a war time supplemental before the August recess. “If the supplemental was not passed we would be in an emergency situation,” said Navy Under Secretary Bob Work, speaking today at a hearing before a House Armed Services Committee.

For the Navy, no supplemental by next week would result in an immediate and significant disruption in operations, said Work. Things would rapidly worsen from there with civilian pay beginning to run out in the middle of August, followed by large scale furloughs; paychecks for active duty personnel would stop going out in mid-September.

“Quite frankly the [Navy] department was expecting the supplemental before the 4th of July, there was really no serious thinking that it would go beyond summer recess,” he said.

Absent supplemental spending, the Army begins to run out of money in the domestic operations and maintenance accounts in the middle of August, said Joseph Westphal, the Army Under Secretary. “We are dangerously close to those deadlines.” The Army has already been forced to dip into its base budget to pay for ongoing operations in Afghanistan.

The Air Force runs out of O&M funds across the range of operations at the end of August and the personnel accounts begin to dry up around mid-September, said Erin Conaton, Air Force Under Secretary. Furloughs for civilians would begin in August and shortages in the military manpower accounts would begin to impact active duty airmen by mid-September. “We certainly encourage as quickly as possible passage of the supplemental,” she said.

“My concern is that among some people in the House there isn’t quite the sense of urgency,” said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Ca.), as the Pentagon has given different dates for when its financial affairs begin to get really ugly. “I for one think that if its not done we shouldn’t leave town until it’s done.”

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