Thousands of Joint Base Lewis-McChord civilian employees know they’re going to work Monday and Tuesday. It’s up to Congress whether they report to work Wednesday.
The base’s civilian workforce is heading into an uncertain week because Congress has not passed a stopgap budget resolution to keep the government running after the start of the next federal financial year, which begins Tuesday.
Lewis-McChord has about 16,000 contractors and civilian employees. Some of them would continue working in the event of a government shutdown, but it’s not clear how many, base spokesman Joe Piek said.
The majority of civilian workers at the base would be sent home with unpaid time off until Congress passes a spending measure.
Piek said base officials are taking steps to create a shutdown plan. Initial planning also is underway at Madigan Army Medical Center, spokesman Jay Ebbeson said.
The Defense Department has about 800,000 civilian employees around the world, and roughly half of them would be furloughed if Congress’ impasse continues beyond Tuesday, Under Secretary of Defense Robert Hale told reporters on Friday.
The civilians who would continue working hold positions that are responsible for maintaining the health and safety of troops and military families living on Defense Department bases, as well as civilians whose jobs support troops in Afghanistan.
Hale characterized the threat of a government shutdown as a costly distraction. Congress resolved a similar stalemate at the 11th hour in April 2011 during a standoff over the nation’s debt ceiling.
“Even if a lapse never occurs, the planning itself is disruptive. People are worrying right now about whether their paychecks are going to be delayed, rather than focusing fully on their mission,” Hale said.
The Army handed down directions this week ordering military service members to report to work even if the shutdown takes place. They’ll be paid on Oct. 1 as they usually are, but later paychecks could be delayed.Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646 email@example.com