Defense officials believe that a government shutdown can be avoided, but they are making prudent plans in the event one does occur, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said April 5 here.
Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III is formulating guidance for the military services and defense agencies in the event that Congress does not approve a fiscal 2011 budget by the deadline April 8.
“While the administration believes that a government shutdown will be averted, the department, including the service leadership, is engaged in prudent planning so that we will be ready if one were to occur,” Morrell said. “While a shutdown would be extremely disruptive to the department and those who work here, I want to underscore that we would still have the authority and the ability to continue key national security activities, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, operations in Libya, and humanitarian assistance in Japan, to name a few.”
The Obama administration is working with congressional leaders to avert a shutdown, he added.
“I think negotiations are clearly at a very sensitive point, so I don’t think it is wise for me to delve too much into this,” Morrell said. “But it is certainly our hope here that we can avoid a shutdown come midnight on (April 8).”
Lynn is in the process of putting out guidance to major DOD components about how they should go about planning for a possible shutdown, he said. This would include guidance on what would constitute an exempt or essential operation or mission, and who would be needed to man those missions.
Morrell said there has been no determination yet on how a potential shutdown would affect military pay.
“We have not been able yet to arrive at a conclusive determination about how everyone’s pay would be impacted by this,” he said. “We are still working through that. So I don’t have a definitive answer for you to relay to our forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. Unfortunately, that’s still an issue that’s being worked.”