Legislation Seeks Continued Military Pay During Government Shutdown
Today, US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) called on Republicans to join Democrats in passing the Pay Our Military Act, legislation to continue paying military servicemembers during the federal government shutdown.
“Our military servicemembers and their families should not be punished simply because this White House can’t get it together to make a deal,” said Senator Schatz, a co-sponsor of the Pay Our Military Act. “These brave men and women don’t stop protecting our country just because the government shuts down. Those who serve our country deserve the pay they have earned, and I’m going to keep working as long as possible to make sure they get it.”
The Pay Our Military Act would ensure that members of the Armed Forces continue to receive pay and related compensation during the government shutdown. The bill also helps ensure that many Department of Defense civilian employees directly supporting military personnel and operations can continue working and receiving compensation. The bill also provides for death benefits to the families of service members.
Home to the United States Pacific Command, Hawai‘i has nearly 50,000 active duty and reserve members of the military.
Meantime, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has cosponsored of the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act (H.R.4694) and the Military Pay Protection Act (H.R.2220) to ensure furloughed federal employees and military personnel are paid during the government shutdown.
She said, “The American people are sick and tired of political games and absent leadership. Funding the government for weeks at a time through short-term deals, and then shutting it down, is outrageous and was completely preventable. These constant crises are no way to govern and are a disservice to the people of Hawaiʻi, our troops, and our country. It’s long past time to stop kicking the can down the road, put aside partisan bickering, work through our differences and reopen the government. The American people deserve better.”
Lt. Col. Christopher Marquez, Commander PTA, issued an update this morning on the Pōhakuloa Training Area on Hawaiʻi Island.
“With the government shutdown, many, if not most, civilian employees here are furloughed and basic services at PTA are limited. I wanted to ensure the public and media understood, however, that our Emergency Services (Police and Fire) are on duty and fully prepared to assist in any situation requiring their aid along Saddle Road or Daniel K. Inouye Highway,” Marquez wrote in an email to media.
“Our Fire and Police teams remain on 24-hour duty at PTA and can respond within an 80-mile radius of the base. Current construction projects to repair failing facilities will not be interrupted and continue to employ over a hundred employees through numerous local contractors. Training on base will also continue and CSM Ortiz and I remain on duty through the week,” said Marquez.
The following information was released by US Sen. Mazie Hirono on what to expect amid the government shutdown. The information is based on contingency plans made available by federal agencies as of Jan. 19, 2018. It is not exhaustive of all federal agencies or programs, and does not provide information on every possible contingency. In the event of a prolonged federal government shutdown, or updated contingency plans being issued by particular federal agencies, this information may be subject to change.
Funding for Medicare will continue because it is a mandatory program and there should be no immediate impact on enrollee’s medical services.
Funding for Medicaid will continue in the short term. States have sufficient funding through the second quarter (end of March).
The federal government will maintain the staff necessary to make payments for the remaining CHIP funding. Hawaiʻi’s funding is expected to run out by March. Hawaiʻi’s CHIP program is part of the state’s Medicaid program, so coverage will not be terminated for the 25,000 children on CHIP.
Med-QUEST is the name of Hawaiʻi’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Improvement Program (CHIP). These programs receive federal funding as well as state funding.
Children’s Health Improvement Program (CHIP)
Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration will continue to process checks for benefits and field offices will remain open for certain activities including accepting applications for new benefits, requests for appeals and other functions. However, replacement of Social Security and Medicare cards will be halted as well as benefit verifications, earnings record corrections and updates, and other functions. Staff that process these functions will be furloughed. If you have a question about the services available to Hawaiʻi residents during the shutdown please contact the SSA directly: https://www.ssa.gov/agency/contact/
Department of Veterans Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will continue to process checks for benefits and VA medical facilities will remain open. Veterans Benefit Administration programs and activities have been funded by advanced appropriations and are now able to continue under a shutdown. The Veterans Health Administration is funded through advanced appropriations so medical services for veterans should not be affected. Veterans and beneficiaries already receiving benefits or compensation will likely not be impacted in a significant way. However, a prolonged shutdown would dramatically impact the timely processing of new disability claims, halt the adjudication of veterans’ appeals of disability claim decisions and cancel any scheduled hearings before the Board of Veterans Appeals. If you have questions about particular facilities or services, please visit https://iris.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1703 for a list of issue-specific toll-free numbers. The VA National Call Center can be reached at 1-800-827-1000
United States Postal Service (USPS):
USPS will be open and mail will be delivered as USPS has its own revenue stream.
US Department of Education (ED):
ED would furlough 90 percent of its employees, and would only maintain excepted functions related to the duties of Presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed individuals, those employees responsible for the protection of life and property, and, as appropriate, those employees responsible for the obligation, payment, and support of student financial aid and other authorized payments and obligations.
Department of Commerce – NOAA/NWS
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service will maintain will continue to support services that forecast and observe weather and climate. NOAA will also continue to monitor and enforce federal fishery management regulations. NOAA and NWS will suspend most research activities and oversight and technical assistance of grants.
Department of the Interior
Visitor centers and other buildings within the Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System will be closed to the public, and National Wildlife Refuges will generally be closed during a government shutdown. The United States Geological Survey services will largely shut down with the exception of the National Earthquake Information Center. Additional employees will be on call as necessary to respond to natural disaster at volcano observatories, water science centers, and other USGS facilities. The Office of Insular Affairs will continue to carry out activities to support Compact of Free Association treaty obligation using prior-year funds. For further information, please visit: https://www.doi.gov/shutdown
Small Business Administration (SBA):
Continued programs: Disaster Loan Program and Inspector General (disaster funded and investigatory activities).
Closed programs: 7(a) Loan Guarantees, 504 Certified Development Company Loans, Microloan, Surety Bond Guarantees, Procurement Assistance Program, Small Business Procurement Set-Aside, 8(a) Business Development, 7(j) Technical Assistance, HUBZone, Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Procurement, Size Standard, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, SCORE, Veterans’ Business Development, Small Business Investment Companies, Small Business Innovation Research, Small Business Technology Transfer Program, International Trade, Federal and State Technology Partnership Program, PRIME Program, Regional Innovation Clusters, Native American Outreach, Ombudsman Program, Secondary Market Guarantee, Emerging Leaders, Inspector General (excluding disaster funded and investigatory activities), Advocacy, and Program Management and Administration
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS):
CNCS will maintain operations of the National Service Trust Fund, VISTA Advance Payment Revolving Fund, National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), and FEMA Corps because payments from those accounts are not contingent on annual appropriations. CNCS will also provide housing and subsistence to 476 NCCC members who will remain at their assigned locations or return to their respective campus; it will operate FEMA Corps at 498 members and VISTA at 6,400 members. Previously awarded grants and cooperative agreements (for the most part) will not be affected by the absence of current appropriations, but there will be no CNCS oversight or assistance provided to grantees until normal operations resume. No new grants will be awarded during this period and program and grant staff will not be available to provide assistance to grantees.