The looming government shutdown could damage national defense and affect agencies across the board from the Transportation Security Administration to the Federal Reserve. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The looming government shutdown could damage national defense and affect agencies across the board, from the Transportation Security Administration to the Federal Reserve.
The governments of China and Russia are not facing a shutdown, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said while urging the U.S. Congress to fund the government or pass a continuing resolution by the end of the fiscal year on Saturday.
"We need to avert any kind of effect that a shutdown could have, not just on the Defense Department, but throughout the federal government," Hicks said last week.
Even during a government shutdown, the Defense Department remains tasked with continuing to conduct ongoing military operations to protect the United States and its interests. That means active-duty soldiers would continue to report for duty without pay, while base services would be closed or limited.
Elective medical and dental surgeries for the troops would have to be postponed, and commissaries would be closed in the United States but remain open in overseas facilities.
The military is supported by about 800,000 civilians, many of which would be furloughed.
More "business-like" activities of the Defense Department -- housed under the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Defense Finance and Accounting Agency -- would continue to be funded by the Defense Working Capital Fund.
The shutdown largely would affect operational planning and coordination more than it would for other areas, such as military recruiting and training.
"No amount of funding can make up for lost time," a Defense Department official said. "A shutdown impacts our ability to outcompete [China]. It costs us time as well as money, and money can't buy back time, especially for lost training events."
Workers in other critical jobs, like air traffic control, also would have to show up to work without getting paid, the White House said in a statement before accusing "extreme House Republicans" of "playing partisan games with peoples' lives."
Employees of the TSA and FAA would stop receiving checks.
"In previous shutdowns, this led to significant delays and longer wait times for travelers at airports across the country," the White House said.
"Additionally, an extreme Republican shutdown would halt air traffic controller training -- potentially leading to long-term disruptions to the industry at a moment when we've seen critical progress filling a backlog of controllers."
Even the Federal Reserve could be adjacently affected. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis and Census Bureau would not be able to put out key data the Fed uses to set economic policy, such as interest rate hikes. Processing times at the IRS would also likely slow.
Things that could also feel the squeeze of a government shutdown without being directly affected could include K-12 schools and childcare.
"As workers go without pay, families go without childcare, poor families lose support for housing and food and schools feel the squeeze," David R. Schuler, executive director of the School Superintendents Association, said in a recent statement urging lawmakers to keep the government open.
"Congress needs to act now to avoid a shutdown, to honor their responsibility to fund the government and to actually serve the people they are elected to represent."
Even the planned birthday festivities for former President Jimmy Carter, who is turning 99, this weekend have been affected by the possibility of a government shutdown. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum has moved up the event to Saturday from Sunday.
"We are starting early to make sure we have a celebration," Tony Clark, director of public affairs for the library, told CNN.
"Some libraries have a non-governmental foundation that operates their museum rather than NARA. Those are able to stay open. The Carter Library works closely with The Carter Center and share some spaces, but the museum is not one of those. So while we anticipate congressional funding to resume Oct. 1, if it doesn't, the government side of the Presidential Center will be closed."
The presidential libraries for George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush are among those expected to remain open.
Not all affected
Things that are not affected by a government shutdown include benefits for veterans and Social Security, except for people signing up for those benefits for the first time. And while the White House has warned that a shutdown could cause delays in student loan processing, bills will still be due.
The U.S. Postal Service will also continue to operate because it is generally self-funded, making its revenue from the selling of stamps and other mail products.
A separate House Republican bill to fund the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration is also at risk because moderate Republicans are opposed to legislation in it that would limit access to the abortion bill mifepristone, The Hill reported.
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said lawmakers were misled by Republican leadership who promised that the mifepristone provision would not be in the bill.