Yet more notes from the shutdown (day eight): Spotlight on defense

Most DoD-funded research proceeding despite shutdown.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called back to work about 90 percent of the 350,000 furloughed defense workers this week. Attorneys for the departments of Defense and Justice concluded that a new interpretation of the Pay Our Military Act allows the Department of Defense to eliminate furloughs for employees whose positions contribute to the readiness, morale and well-being of service members.

Most research funded by the Department of Defense has not been affected by furloughs, but some information functions may not be operational. For example, the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) Facebook page is active, but the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Twitter and Facebook are not being updated. The Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences has not been impacted by furloughs, but some functions at the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (MRMC) may be. The message on the MRMC website notes, “Today many of our furloughed Civilian workforce were recalled to duty. We received very specific guidance as to what positions could return. Although a large portion of our workforce is on duty, it is NOT business as usual.”

You may have read that the House passed a bill to guarantee back pay to federal workers who have been furloughed. Although the bill has not been considered in the Senate, they are said to support it. That said, Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader, will not schedule such a vote in the Senate without a sure 60-vote margin to cut off debate (cloture). The Senate rules allow wide latitude to minority members to prolong debate and offer amendments, so there is always a “cloture calculus” before any bill is considered.

A few questions for our Budget Blog readers: Is your member of Congress accepting a salary during the government shutdown? Many are refusing their salaries or making arrangements to donate the amount of their paycheck. See this running tally in the Washington Post.

In case you missed it, here is a useful article from Pew Research about federal government statistics and reports that are affected by the shutdown. We here at APA want to know how the shutdown is affecting you; email us with your stories.