But it could still be adversely impacted.
President Donald Trump keeps claiming that the possible government shutdown on Friday will hurt the military worst of all.
On Thursday, he tweeted, “A government shutdown will be devastating to our military … something the Dems care very little about!” He made similar comments to reporters during a visit to the Pentagon a few hours later.
But that’s not entirely true. That’s because a government shutdown doesn’t actually mean the entire government shuts down. Government employees who are considered “excepted” are exempt from the furlough and will continue to work and get paid like normal.
Active-duty military personnel are among those who are “excepted.” So the military will still function even if the government shuts down.
Where the shutdown could potentially impact the military, though, is if the thousands of civilian officials and contractors who work for the Department of Defense in support of the military are furloughed.
Positions like accountants, secretaries, and press officers — all of whom do critical work that makes the military run smoothly — are nevertheless considered “non-excepted” and would therefore be sent home if the government shut down (though some people are forced to work for free and just receive back pay after the government reopens).
If the shutdown lasts only a day or two, military personnel probably won’t notice any major changes to their day-to-day work, says Byron Callan, a defense budget expert at Capital Alpha Partners. But if the shutdown lasts longer — stretching into weeks — that’s a different story.
The military still worked during the last government shutdown
It’s worth looking back to the 2013 government shutdown, which lasted for two weeks.