Government Shutdown Won’t Stop Military Funding, Despite What Trump Says; Here’s What Will Happen

Another month, another political battle threatening to shut down the United States government. Some things never change. And with a potential government shutdown just a week away, President Donald Trump took to Twitter, as he is wont to do, to pin the blame on the Democrats and highlight the effect a shutdown would have on the military.

Related: Government shutdown 2017: five ways it could affect you if Congress can’t pass funding deal 

"....Because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards. The Dems will threaten 'shutdown,' but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most. Get smart, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" the president tweeted Friday morning. 

The only problem? Trump was incorrect in saying that a government shutdown would shut down the military. And maybe he figured that out, since just 30 minutes after the first tweet, he fired off a second, more accurate, missive. "Sadly, Democrats want to stop paying our troops and government workers in order to give a sweetheart deal, not a fair deal, for DACA. Take care of our Military, and our Country, FIRST!"

Democrats and Republicans are embroiled in a number of legislative fights, the most contentious and highest profile battle coming over immigration and what to do about DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to America as children to register and remain in the country.

If the two parties are unable to reach an agreement and the government does shut down when the calendar turns to January 20, what would it mean for our servicemen and women?

First, the good news. No, the military will not shut down if the government shuts down. During a government shutdown, all non-essential employees are furloughed, meaning they are told not to report to work. The military is considered essential to the function of the United States, and therefore those servicemembers who are on active duty are still expected to report to work.

Now, for the bad news. Members of the military who report to work during a government shutdown should not expect to be paid, either while they work or retroactively. The Defense Finance and Accounting Surface, the Department of Defense agency responsible for military pay, states, "in case of a potential government shutdown, the Department of Defense has no legal authority to pay any personnel—military or civilian—for the days during which the government is shut down."

In 2013, when the government shut down, Congress passed legislation which ensured that members of the military who worked during the shutdown received paychecks. However, the legislation was only applicable to the 2013 fiscal year and as such, if Congress wanted to ensure that those on active duty are paid during a potential 2018 government shutdown, they would need to pass similar legislation.

In a Congress which has thus far not displayed the ability to compromise, servicemen and women shouldn't count on them starting in the midst of a shutdown.