U.S national security won’t be affected by the current government shutdown, as agencies responsible for protecting the nation will continue carry out their missions, according to the Defense Department’s top leader.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke to reporters Oct. 1 during his trip in Asia-Pacific, addressing the shutdown and how to minimize its impact on the civilian DOD workforce.
Uniformed military will be “taken care of” and will receive pay, Hagel said, because of the Military Pay Protection Act. Passed in the Senate on Sept. 30, the law exempts some DOD civilian employees, certain defense contractors, and service members from delayed pay during a shutdown.
Earlier this morning, nonessential DOD civilians received official furlough notification when reporting to work. Those exempt from the shutdown stayed at work and will get paid.
DOD is now looking into whether some civilians could be called back from furlough, based on their work duties.
“It’s, in fact, the priority in our general counsel’s office,” Hagel said.
Hagel plans to talk with other Pentagon leaders later today to further manage the shutdown-related adjustments on the department.
Although the shutdown affects missions worldwide, DOD will “be able to fulfill our mission of keeping this country … secure, we will fulfill our mission of maintaining the alliances we have and our troops in South Korea [and] Japan and other treaty obligations,” the secretary said.
The shutdown will, however, tarnish America’s credibility with its allies, Hagel cautioned.
“It is nonsensical … it is completely irresponsible,” he said about the shutdown. “It’s needless. It didn’t have to happen. And I would hope that our Congress can find a new center of gravity of responsibility, and start to govern.”