Today, the Senate reached an agreement to end the government shutdown (called continuing resolution, or CR), which will keep the government open for three weeks until February 8th. The Senate agreement is expected to pass the House and get signed by the President as early as this evening, so that furloughed federal workers can return to their offices in the morning.
But simply put, this isn’t over, as funding will run out in three weeks and another vote will be called. If Congress doesn’t agree to a full-year defense spending bill in three weeks, the uncertainty continues for the military and veterans.
The three-day shutdown already caused damage beyond creating uncertainty and tanking morale; many units cancelled drill for the National Guard and Reservists this weekend; that means lost wages for those servicemembers on top of disrupting unit training schedules. And some “non-essential” programs began shutting down this weekend through this morning. This means that countless labor hours and resources were wasted in the preparation and execution of shutdown procedures. As a former DoD federal supervisor who lived through the 2013 government shutdown, I can personally attest to the pain and indignity of following furlough procedures.
A quick reminder: government shutdowns also hurt veterans employed by the government. 31 percent of federal civil servants are veterans and members of our community who are disparately impacted by any shutdown. DoD is hit hard in particular, with almost half of employees being veterans and potentially subject to furlough (or working without pay). VA employees are in a better position; 95 percent remained at work today since VA operates on a 2 year budget cycle (That’s something veterans organizations, like IAVA, advocated for years ago, thus avoiding shutdown catastrophes and disruption of pay and benefits.) So, another potential shutdown showdown in three weeks would harm our population all over again.
IAVA, along with our veteran and military organization partners, will continue to monitor the status of the budget and provide updates on any impact to our members. And we’ll keep fighting like hell to ensure Congress doesn’t allow for this disruption to government operations to happen again!
IAVA’s dynamic Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP) social workers are trained to help veterans and military family members navigate all types of transition issues. If the government shutdown affects veterans benefits, livelihood, or well being and they need support, our highly-skilled RRRP team will do their best to help.