U.S. troops could be required to report to work without pay if a budget clash in Congress results in a government-wide shutdown, according to draft planning guidance circulating in the Pentagon.
A shutdown could happen as early as next week, as the government is set to run out of money at midnight March 17. A bill that would keep the government operating temporarily has been prepared in the House of Representatives, but it is not clear when or if it might pass.
The government has been operating under a series of temporary appropriations, known as continuing resolutions, since Oct. 1 because of lawmakers’ inability to agree on how much money to provide federal agencies. Budget discussions have become increasingly complicated since the November general elections resulted in a divided legislature, with Republicans controlling the House and Democrats controlling the Senate.
When the government was shut down in 1995, military personnel continued to report to work and were paid, but the planning guidance sent to the services and defense agencies says a shutdown this time will be different.
“All military personnel will continue in normal duty status regardless of their affiliation with exempt or non-exempt activities,” says the draft planning guidance that was prepared for the services and defense agencies. “Military personnel will serve without pay until such time as Congress makes appropriated funds available to compensate them for this period of service.”