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By Julie Kliegman September 24, 2013

Bill Young says military pay would be delayed during government shutdown

U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., and other House Republicans oppose Obamacare and recently approved a measure to fund the government only if President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act,  is defunded.

But while addressing the House on Friday, the longest-serving Republican in Congress called the House plan a "painful and inefficient way to govern," and cautioned his peers against a government shutdown.

Young included impact on the military in his list of examples of what would happen should the shutdown come to pass.

"All military personnel will continue to serve and accrue pay but will not actually be paid until appropriations are available," he said.

We wanted to see how soldiers’ wallets would be impacted if the government shuts down.

First, let’s review shutdown logistics. If the president and Congress can’t agree on funding for the new fiscal year, federal agencies can’t operate, except in emergencies.

The last shutdowns were in 1995 and 1996. In November 1995, the shutdown lasted five days, which was not long enough to affect military pay. From mid December 1995 to early January 1996, a 21-day shutdown occurred, which would have affected paychecks, if not for defense appropriations enacted on Dec. 1 that made funding available.

This time around, however, no such budget appropriations have been passed, or at least not yet. Cmdr. Bill Urban, a U.S. Department of Defense spokesman, said there is still enough time for the government to pass them.

Back in January, Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., introduced legislation that would allow both troops and civilians to get paid in the event of a shutdown, but the bill never made it out of committee.

Urban said the Defense Department was making plans based on its past experience with government shutdowns. In April 2011, before Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown, the department announced that the military would continue to work but would be paid retroactively. That would likely be the same plan this time around.

If the government shutdown does occur on Sept. 30, military members would receive their Oct. 1 paychecks on time, but Oct. 15 paychecks would be delayed.

We should note that civilians who work for the Defense Department wouldn’t fare as well, based on the 2011 report. Many would go on unpaid furlough during a shutdown.

"It would put a good bit of stress on an already stressed workforce," Urban said.

Our ruling

Though Young supported a House measure to defund Obamacare, he’s now urging the House to avoid a government shutdown, reminding fellow members of how that affects military pay. A Defense Department official said the department’s plan will be similar to plans from past threats of government shutdowns. That means the military would delay paychecks. Young’s claim is that the military cannot be paid without appropriations is correct. We rate his statement True.

Our Sources

Army Times, "No Mid-Oct. Paycheck for Troops if Government Shuts Down, Lawmaker says," Sept. 23, 2013

Congressional Record, Sept. 20, 2013

Congressional Research Service, "Government Shutdown: Operations of the Department of Defense During a Lapse in Appropriations," April 1, 2011

Congressional Research Service, "Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects," Aug. 6, 2013

Mark Udall News, "Udall, Moran Introduce Bill to Protect Military Pay in Event of Government Shutdown," Jan. 29, 2013

Phone interview with Cmdr. Bill Urban, Department of Defense spokesman, Sept. 24, 2013

Phone interview with Harry Glenn, spokesman for Rep. Bill Young, Sept. 23, 2013

Politico, "Shutdown Would Delay Military Pay," Sept. 20, 2013

U.S. Department of Defense, "DOD Officials Detail Closure Effects, Plans," April 8, 2011

Washington Post, "Government Shutdown 2011: Will I get paid? What Will Be Open? What Can I Expect?" April 9, 2011

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Bill Young says military pay would be delayed during government shutdown

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